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Your Story Made Here: Hospice

February 17th, 2015

News Coverage:

Your Story Made Here: Hospice

By Melissa Long- 21Alive
By Ian Hoover- 21Alive

February 18, 2015 Updated Feb 18, 2015 at 2:53 PM EST

Fort Wayne's Visiting Nurse organization is 126 years old. It has provided support and comfort for local families for generations. But it continues to change in ways that allow it to touch more lives. No longer just a home visiting service, the organization now features a beautiful hospice home, palliative care and soon to be opened "Grief Center".

Part of that growth is the recent addition of a Director of Diversity and Inclusion: Dr. Melissa Rinehart, whose job is to make sure people of all cultures can access the organization's comforting touch.

Melissa Rinehart says: "There's a language barrier often times and we provide interpretation services and so that's something we take very seriously. And then there are cultural issues. You know if they have a different faith, we want to respect that.

Dr. Yomi Adeyemi came to Visiting Nurse from Chicago. He was drawn here by what they are doing to reach out.

Dr. Adeyemi says:" I'm from the south side of Chicago and the minority populations there are very, very suspicious of the established organizations, rightly so. When someone says: 'I'm going to help your loved one die', well, I don't know if I should trust you. I don't know what that means. Do you want to get rid of them? You want to make them comfortable? What does that mean? If I'm going by my previous experience, I don't think I want to talk to you."

Melissa Rinehart says: "My role in the community is to educate these populations about hospice care and what that means so we do see a more diverse patient base and I also want to diversify our staff, you know, I want people to come into hospice home or when we provide care in a patients home, I want them to see clinicians that they can identify with ."

Dr. Rinehart spends about half of her time out in the community working with many different groups including the city's large Burmese refugee population. Her goal is to let them know there is a safe place where their loved ones and their culture will be respected. And it's all given free of charge.

Dr. Adeyemi says: " Dying can be beautiful. We don't have to be scared of….everybody's going to die. All of us. It can be beautiful if we handle it properly. It starts with knowledge."

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