Hospice month proclaimed in Wadena; staff members discuss misconceptions

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and Wadena's local hospice service is trying to raise awareness in the community and the general public.

Diane Leaders, social worker and bereavement and volunteer coordinator for Legacy Home Health and Hospice Services of Wadena, points out the hospice service library at the organization's administrative building. November is Hospice Month. Photo by Rachelle Klemme

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and Wadena's local hospice service is trying to raise awareness in the community and the general public.

On Thursday, Mayor Wayne Wolden signed a proclamation for Hospice Month to be recognized in the city of Wadena.

Wolden said he has personal insight, since his wife's mother recently passed away, and she was in hospice care. Also, his wife, Lori Wolden, has done a lot of home health and hospice work.

"I have a great appreciation for the immense talent and sympathy that these nurses display. I think it's vitally important that we raise the awareness of hospice in our area," Wolden said.

He also said it is the first time he has signed the declaration, and as far as he knows, it is the first time the city of Wadena has officially recognized Hospice Month.


The annual hospice "Getting Through the Holidays: Light-a-Light" event will be Nov. 14, at the Browne Family Conference Center at Tri-County Heath Care. This year's speaker is Lin Bentrup.

Dan Peterson, Diane Leaders and Joyce Uselman of Legacy Home Health and Hospice Service of Wadena said hospice is living life as fully and comfortably as possible in one's remaining days, and being able to spend those days at home surrounded by family.

Uselman, clinical coordinator and RN, said there are some misconceptions about hospice. One is that hospice is only for cancer patients. In reality, hospice is for any life-limiting illness, as well as for patients of any age.

Peterson, hospice director, said only around 37 percent of hospice nationally is related to cancer.

Uselman said hospice clients often have end-stage heart disease, kidney failure, memory loss, Alzheimer's, ALS, dementia and other illnesses.

Another misconception, Uselman said, is that clients can only receive hospice care if they are confined to bed - but again, in reality, it is for any illness expected to end in death.

Additionally, Uselman said people are often not aware that Legacy Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurers.

At Legacy Hospice, patients keep their own doctor as well as working with the medical director of hospice.


Peterson and Uselman said regulation requires an estimate of six months to live or less, but in reality, it can be extended as long as needed if the client survives longer than the expected six months.

The average hospice period is 108 days for Wadena, and staff said a comment they get from families frequently is they wish they had started hospice earlier.

The transition from hospitalization to hospice brings a different emphasis - from trying to solve a medical problem to comforting a patient with holistic means and easing the dying process.

"It's about caring, not curing," Uselman said.

Peterson said hospice pain control is not just medications for physical symptoms, but dealing with emotional and spiritual pain.

Also, Legacy Hospice works with area clergy and has a chaplain.

Additionally, bereavement services for family members last a year or two after the patient's death. Leaders, social worker and bereavement and volunteer coordinator, said caregivers contact Legacy Hospice regularly to thank them for support.

Leaders said the hospice movement was started by Cicely Saunders in England, and arrived in the U.S. in the 1970s.


Previously, people who were terminally ill often died in the hospital without family close by, Uselman said.

"There's been hospice in Wadena since about 1991," Leaders said.

Mary Ellen Quincer was the founder, and in 1994, hospice was transferred to Tri-County Health Care, in order to have Medicare certification.

In May, the hospice program was transferred from Tri-County Health Care to Legacy Senior Services and Health Dimensions Group, along with Fair Oaks Lodge and Fair Oaks Apartments.

The administrative center has been located on the Fair Oaks grounds since November 2011, after being mostly headquartered at the old Wesley Hospital building.

Hospice is also expanding. In 1995, Wadena's hospice program had 12 patients over the entire year. In 2011, they had approximately 60.

The service also accepts volunteers who go to hospice homes to read to patients and do other activities to aid in quality of life. Volunteer training is typically held in the spring.

For patient referrals, call 218-632-1335 or contact a physician.

What To Read Next
Get Local