A Hospice Advocate On Capital Hill

By Jodi 

Earlier this month, Randy Spahr, HRRV chaplain, and I had the honor of attending the Hospice Advocacy Intensive in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Hospice of the Red River Valley. How thrilling to visit a place I have only seen in history books, for work I believe in so passionately!

Upon my arrival to the hotel, I was handed a welcome letter and schedule of meetings. And after registering for the intensive, I received a packet of more information and logistics. I knew the next day would be a long, memorable day.

Monday morning at 8 a.m., I walked into the Grand Ballroom of the hotel. Don Schumacher, the CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, welcomed us warmly, along with all of the other advocates. We spent the entire day among peers, learning and soaking up information. The highlight of the day was learning from Brad Fitch of the Congressional Management Foundation; he taught us storytelling exercises. What a valuable lesson—and so applicable! Telling the hospice story is why we were there, after all.

We had an immediate opportunity to use our newfound skills. Our first meeting was with Rep. Kevin Cramer. He had been called back to North Dakota, so we met with his very knowledgeable aide, Andrew, from Harvey, N.D. We invited Andrew and Rep. Cramer to visit one of our nursing home patients on hospice care, and to please reject cuts to hospice care provided to nursing home residents.

Next, we met with Sen. John Hoeven’s aide, Ingrid. We shared compelling personal stories of hospice care in action. Suddenly, Ingrid stopped us, and said with full sincerity, “If John were sitting here right now he’d give you his full support. He already believes in hospice and protecting access to funding. I’m going to share all of this with him.” We invited Sen. Hoeven and Ingrid to visit us too.

We ended our day in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s office. She too had been called away, so we met with her aide, Megan. As we told stories of hospice care, Megan asked questions and took notes. She was very moved by the stories we shared about our patients. We implored her to ask Sen. Heitkamp to support the Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment Act.

My trip to Washington, D.C., to share the hospice story was short, but purposeful. But, our work is not done, and you can help, too! If hospice has touched your family, and your heart, I encourage you to speak up. Tell our congressmen to reject cuts to hospice care.

Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting The Hospice Action Network.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.