PHOENIX (January 24, 2019)—In just two decades, enrollment in hospice care has increased more than seven times from 210,000 to more than 1.5 million. To honor the countless professionals caring for those in hospice, Science Care has announced 10 Hospice Heroes, recognizing their commitment to the critical and exhausting vocation. The following 10 hospice professionals were selected by Science Care for upholding the highest standards while looking after the terminally ill:

1. Bonita Adair—Mesa, Arizona

2. Eric Wojcik—Colorado Springs, Colorado

3. Kyle Booth—Los Angeles, California

4. Chaplain Kathy Kenney—Lake Havasu City, Arizona

5. Jessica Womble—Tulsa, Oklahoma

6. Dr. Diane Knight—Orlando, Florida

7. Audrey Fuller—Lake Havasu City, Arizona

8. Michael Stone—Trinidad, Texas

9. Neil Livingston—Decatur, Texas

10. Bill Freeman—Artesia, New Mexico

“Hospice is one of the most underutilized programs, despite it being on the cutting-edge of pharmaceuticals and patient care,” says Hospice Hero recipient Neil Livingston of Decatur, Texas. “It’s more than just medication management and vital signs. Hospice is complex, and that is why I love what I do—I am able to listen and make the unknown known to those who need answers the most.”

The Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care reports hospice professionals do not receive the emotional support they need. In fact, in recent years the turnover rate for the in-home care industry has increased to 65.7 percent.

As a facilitator of whole-body donation, Science Care works with hospice organizations on a daily basis through its Hope Program, offering no-cost donation pre-screenings to patients in hospice care, who are interested in leaving lasting legacies. Through this work, Science Care sees first-hand the pressure and emotional burden industry professionals experience.

“We know hospice is centered on compassion and care rather than cures, which oftentimes leads these professionals to go unnoticed for their thankless job,” says Katrina Hernandez, vice president of donor services for Science Care. “We are thrilled to recognize the heroes of hospice and show them just how valued they are for going above and beyond for those in dire need of care and support.”

Science Care’s Hospice Heroes Awards Program called upon colleagues, friends and loved ones to nominate individuals deserving of the recognition in 500 words or less. Submissions ranged from those who visit surrounding hospice organizations during vacation time to learn about their practices and processes, hospice professionals turned honorary family members, to those who were nominated for listening to the joys, hopes and fears of loved ones.

Mesa, Arizona resident, Jody Hummer nominated her late mother’s hospice hero Bonita Adair for the award, “We will never forget Bonita and the care she showed us. Not only has she made lasting contributions to the countless families she works with, but she helps her patients transition at end-of-life in comfort and love and that is a gift beyond measure.”

One recipient reflected on her hospice career, “There are no heroes in hospice. There are, however, opportunities,” says Chaplain Kathy Kenney of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. “Opportunities to listen and do what is needed whether that’s assisting with hygiene, playing with pets, simply being present, or slowing down the hectic, exhausting role of a loved one turned caregiver.” Kenney was nominated by Jennifer Springfield, who describes the great lengths Kenney reached for her terminally ill mother, including throwing an impromptu birthday celebration for her on her final few days.

Science Care is closely linked to the hospice industry, working with hospices and hospitals nationwide to facilitate whole body donations supporting medical research, education and training that touches virtually every level of medical and personal care.

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