February 1, 2012

LightBridge Hospice Achieves Highest National Recognition for Veteran Care

LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care is the only hospice in California, and one of only 12 in the U.S. to meet stringent We Honor Veterans Partner Level 4 requirements in improving the care and support of Veterans.

This program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), empowers hospice professionals to meet the unique needs of ailing Veterans.

“As Veterans age, they face a distinct set of needs and challenges, including medical issues related to where they served, memories that might trigger anxiety and stoicism that makes asking for help difficult,” said Jill Mendlen, founder and president of LightBridge Hospice. “After all they’ve done for us it’s a privilege to thank those who served with the superior end-of-life care that they deserve.”

To reach Partner Level 4, LightBridge focused on increasing access to and improving the quality of care former military personnel receive in San Diego County. LightBridge heightened the integration of Veteran-specific education for staff, volunteers and the community, enhanced the Veteran Volunteer Program and developed resources to help patients and their families access these benefits. Then, LightBridge was tasked with measuring the impact of its community interventions.

In addition, LightBridge created special services and programs for Veterans that includes “No Vet Dies Alone,” an 11th hour program for patients without family and a Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer program focusing on companionship. LightBridge staff and volunteers (including Army Reservists) also conduct honor ceremonies for terminally ill retired military personnel to thank them for their service with a certificate, pin and pillow made from the uniform of the recipient’s branch of military. Craig Gillette, a 60-year-old Navy Vietnam Veteran from Jamul, is the latest honoree.

“I’m really proud. You put a smile on my heart,” said Craig Gillette at the LightBridge Hospice honor ceremony, which recently took place at his house. “I never experienced this kind of reception coming home from the Vietnam War. This is my homecoming.” 

According to the NHPCO, one out of every four dying Americans is a Veteran. That’s why it became so important for LightBridge to develop and implement new policies and programs that help assist a community with such a heavy military population.

“This level of expertise is very personal to the staff at LightBridge because many of us have a military background or family in the military,” said Pamela Hough, Sr. Vice President, Operations/Administrator of LightBridge Hospice. “I’m so proud of our team that has worked so hard to prove their level of commitment to San Diego’s Veteran population!”

To volunteer, donate or learn more about the LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care Veterans’ Program please call 858-458-2992 or visit: www.LightBridgeHospice.com/blog/

For more information about the program, visit We Honor Veterans.

There is an immediate need for uniforms from all branches of the military to be sewn into pillows for Veterans’ honor ceremonies. Please send them to: LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care, 6155 Cornerstone Court East, Suite 220 San Diego, CA 92121 or call 858-458-2992 to arrange for pick up.