Hospice of Michigan Institute — address tomorrow’s needs today


Fifteen years ago, Hospice of Michigan team members began noticing a “care gap.”

The physicians, nurses and social workers so adept at providing end-of-life care for those with a diagnosis of six months or less to live found an increasing number of patients and families who needed help but didn’t meet this criteria.

Struggling with advanced cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS and other serious illnesses, these patients were falling through the proverbial cracks of the health care system. Families who had stepped in to provide the extra care needed found themselves exhausted and struggling.

So was born the idea for At Home Support, an advanced illness management program that offers comfort care to seriously ill patients who still may be years away from hospice care. The program provides an interdisciplinary team who handle the medical, social and spiritual needs of patients and their caregivers and round-the-clock access to nurses telephonically.

At Home Support is just one example that makes it easy to understand why research and education is so important to end-of-life care. That’s why, with a generous $3 million gift from Detroit-area philanthropist and civic leader Maggie Allesee, the Maggie Allesee Center for Quality of Life was formed.

Today, the Center has evolved to become the Hospice of Michigan Institute, the only research and innovation center in Michigan focused on end-of-life care. It has become the premier hub for research, education and community outreach initiatives aimed at improving care for people who are seriously ill and providing support for their caregivers.

“The Hospice of Michigan Institute is a place where end-of-life experts can exchange ideas on enhancing the care of those with serious illness and where health care providers can learn new ways to improve the care they provide their patients in the last phase of life,” Dr. Michael Paletta, executive director of the Institute, said. “The education and programs the Institute provides are grounded in its research which changes every day.

“The research shows we can live better with serious illness and through training and education of its staff, medical professionals and the community at large, the Institute is improving quality-of-life at the end-of-life.”

The Institute is focused on:

  • Training the trainers: It’s an approved provider of continuing nursing education, allowing the Institute to train HOM staff as well as educate nurses throughout the country on issues and concepts dealing with quality-of-life and end-of-life care. Additionally, the Institute offers cultural experience programs that provide greater insight into the needs of those facing unique circumstances related to shared experiences that fall beyond typical hospice care and training.
  • Education and training for persons living with advanced illness: the Institute conducts educational and outreach activities, accessible to the general public, that provide a comfortable environment for individuals to discuss advanced illness management and death at any point in their lives.
  • Research initiatives: Collaborating with major universities and health care centers, the Institute develops new and innovative ways to improve quality-of-life and end-of-life care. The Institute uses this research and data to show the value of its programs and constantly measures outcomes to prove effectiveness.

In the past few years alone, research and education developed by the Institute has helped HOM introduce several new programs, including:

  • Veteran support training: In conjunction with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s We Honor Veterans program, the Institute has provided training and education programs to HOM’s clinical teams to recognize and treat the unique issues facing military families. HOM has been recognized as a Level Four partner in the program, signifying the organization has met the highest standards set by the Veterans Administration and NHPCO for this national program.
  • Holocaust survivor education: In an effort to provide better and more sensitive end-of-life care to the hundreds of Holocaust survivors in Michigan, the Institute is working with the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network to educate HOM staff on the Holocaust and the unique end-of-life needs of survivors.
  • Hispanic outreach program: The Institute has secured grant funding to allow HOM to better meet the needs of the Hispanic community in Grand Rapids. Spanish-speaking nurses and staff have begun connecting with community to provide culturally sensitive hospice services and educational materials.

To learn more about the Hospice of Michigan Institute or for more information on educational programs offered to medical professionals and the community, call 888.247.5701 or visit www.hom.org.