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Choosing A Hospice: Bill Finn Offers Tips on NPR

January 20, 2015

The number opodcast picturef for-profit hospice firms has tripled in the last 15 years, and an analysis by The Washington Post  indicated that for-profit hospice firms often provide less nursing and crisis care.

That was the topic of discussion on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show Jan. 15, as guest host Frank Sesno moderated a forum on hospice care in the United States. The forum included Norman McRae CEO, Caris HealthCare LP; Dr. Joanne Lynn geriatrician, hospice physician and director of the Altarum Institute Center on Elder Care and Advanced Illness; Peter Whoriskey reporter, The Washington Post; and Tim Cox CEO, The Washington Home and Community Hospices.

Listen to the Jan. 15 podcast.

Hospice of the Western Reserve CEO Bill Finn, who heads the sixth largest non-profit hospice organization in the country, called into the show to offer his opinion on what potential clients should be looking for when choosing a hospice, especially in a crowded field.

“It’s more than profit vs. non-profit; we need to look at best practices, quality and service and it’s confusing for people trying to make decisions,” he said. “The next level should be, ‘Is this a hospice that employs full-time physicians? Is this a hospice that has certified staff? Is this a hospice that is JHACO certified? Or in our case, do they have a research institute? Do they have a full-blown pediatric program? Are they using other therapies that aren’t required under Medicare…music, massage, art therapy to enrich the experience? Do they have more than the minimum requirement of volunteers? Do they have their own in-patient units?’

“These are the things that strategically differentiate not just profit and non-profit but best practice hospice care in America. That’s what a consumer really needs when faced with a choice of 50 hospices and trying to figure out what the right thing to do is.”

In October of 2014, Consumer Reports issued its criteria on how to find a good hospice program. Key factors included: selecting a non-for profit hospice program with 20 or more years of experience, and having hospice-certified nurses and doctors on staff — and available– 24 hours per day. Read the entire Consumer Reports article here. 





When the unthinkable happens: Homicide and Grief

January 9, 2015

It seems as if the news is filled with senseless murders and of inexplicable interactions between the police and the community.  The inconceivable happens – a special person dies in a sudden and unexpected way.  When a loved one is murdered, family and friends often experience traumatic symptoms along with grief reactions.

Homicide is so sudden and unanticipated.  It falls outside the usual experience of what one expects life to be like.  Abruptly losing a person in this manner can shatter one’s sense of well-being.  Strong reactions are common, including fear, helplessness, shock, anger and even horror.  These trauma reactions are normal responses to an extremely difficult time in our lives.  But when you mix these reactions with grief, the results can be overwhelming.

Grieving parents of murdered children and grandchildren often mention that they feel like they are in “another world,” but the world around them doesn’t stop.  It’s common to feel a sense of numbness, of “being in a fog.”

You may also feel:

  • Disbelief at what happened
  • Intense rage at the guilty party
  • Guilty as if somehow you could have prevented this tragedy
  • Preoccupied with visual images or sounds
  • Fear, distrust, helplessness, and hypervigilance
  • Blame, isolation, exploitation
  • Anger

The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or longer, depending on the severity of the traumatic death.  The understanding and support of family and friends can help the stress reactions pass more quickly.  Here are a number of tips that can help during this very difficult time:

  • Maintain as normal a schedule as possible (as impossible as it seems); structure your time
  • Follow the basics for good health (even when you don’t feel like it) – rest, eat well, exercise
  • Reduce other stressors as much as possible – make to do lists, be patient with yourself when you can’t find your keys, limit distractions that might interfere with concentration
  • Be aware of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol; go easy on caffeine
  • Talk to people – reach out, spend time with others
  • Do things that feel good to you – take a walk, listen to music, keep a feelings journal, etc.
  • Set boundaries with law enforcement officials, news media and friends and family
  • Give yourself permission to feel the pain and share these feelings with others
  • Don’t feel the need to fight reoccurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks; they are normal and will decrease overtime and become less painful

Above all, know that you’re not going crazy.  Your reactions are normal.  However, there are times when a traumatic death is so painful that professional assistance may be helpful.  Seek professional help if anger, anxiety and depression persist, worsen or begin to interfere with your life, job or relationships. Be kind and gentle with yourself and remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

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Job Opening: Group Practice Manager

January 5, 2015


Location: Cleveland, OH

Responsible for the overall management of physician and palliative care services. Directs and coordinates the day-to-day business practice and scheduling of physician activities and patient visits, as well as overseeing the billing and coding for such services. The Manager demonstrates behavior consistent with the mission and vision of Hospice of the Western Reserve.


Bachelor’s degree in health or business administration; Minimum two years management experience in physician practice office setting; Demonstrated experience with medical practice contract negotiations and Part B billing.

Email resume and/or application to or fax to 216.298.0388.

Volunteer Opportunities

Back to job listings


About Hospice of the Western Reserve

Hospice of the Western Reserve provides palliative end-of-life care, caregiver support, and bereavement services throughout Northern Ohio.  In celebration of the individual worth of each life, we strive to relieve suffering, enhance comfort, promote quality of life, foster choice in end-of-life care and support effective grieving.

*Please do not submit resumes or any personal information in the comments section*

Botanical Gardens, Patient’s Beauty Inspire Hospice Nursing Assistant

January 5, 2015


Not everyone has the  opportunity to experience “life being lived to its fullest” at work, but one Hospice of the Western Reserve employee was so touched after taking accompanying a patient on a “day to remember,” she wrote a poem capturing the occasion, and created a digital picture to emphasize one of her patient’s more memorable days.

Hospice of the Western Reserve Nursing Assistant Christine Cross spent a “day to remember” with patient Arveda Helmick at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens in early November. With nature cooperating, Arveda was able to spend a beautiful day with the last of the year’s blooms outdoors and with the continuously blooming flowers in the Glasshouse.

Cross, a member of the Alt-home East team in Mentor, said the day was special for Arveda.

“She said she will never forget this moment, ever,” Cross said. “She was so touched and blessed to be a part of something special.  She said, ‘God must be looking down at me because it’s a beautiful day! The most precious gifts, is receiving things you cannot buy. I will forever hold this special day close to my heart.

The day was also special for the nursing assistant.arveda4

“It was so precious to see her eyes light up,” Cross said.

Cross, a talented photo editing artist, used an editing program to create a series of composites featuring Arveda.

“(Hospice of the Western Reserve social worker) Dawn Nickels gave her a beautiful scrap book that she did for her with my photos,” Cross said. “I downloaded a new app I was using for different pics of my own. I tried a few of hers just to see how they would turn out.  And they turned out awesome. She looks at her scrapbook daily and is just in awe and great memories she had.

“Having this experience with her is just the greatest gift ever. This is one of many reasons why I love my job.”

Nickels a social worker on the Mentor Alt East team made a scrapbook capturing the day’s events.  Nickels, who has been scrapbooking for more than 18 years created the book from photos taken during the day. She often makes books to commemorate patients’ “days to remember.”

Other team members chipped in to make the day memorable. Hospice of the Western Reserve home care nurse Kathy Rinehart, LPN preceptor Dawn Pechatsko and a volunteer also attended with Arveda.

In the days following IMG_9406the trip to the botanical gardens, Cross wrote the following to commemorate the day with her patient:

God’s beautiful picture

It surely was a beautiful this early November day.
Your face was beaming with great joy.
You melted my heart, as I saw the beauty within your eyes.
So many precious moments was captured throughout the day.
The beauty of nature, took your breath away. Then you said, “God Is Smiling Down On Me.”
No one could wipe that precious smile away. There were so many butterflies, but you could see the twinkle in your eye.
You stood there in awe, and admired the beauty within the butterfly. We walked through many gardens and picked up some leaves along the way. God painted a beautiful picture.
And we all shared it together on this beautiful, wonderful, blessed day.

What Do You Resolve to be More of in 2015?

December 31, 2014

It’s time to welcome a brand new year.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015?
What moments do you resolve to have more of? Be more of? See more of?

Here are some of our favorite stories of people who did more of in 2014.



More love? 





1More patriotic?

 lubrizolgroupMore service?

Sue with Heather Englander, BVU and Dennis Lehman, Executive VP and General Manager   More volunteering?

more joyMore joyful sounds? 

carousel_solinksy1214  More resilient?

amara wagner  More generosity? 



More earth friendly?



Job Opening: Senior Payroll Coordinator

December 30, 2014


Location: Cleveland, OH

Perform all aspects of the payroll function including reporting, maintenance and processing.  Prepare all monthly payroll, payroll accrual and related expenditure journal entries along with the appropriate support schedules.


Three to five years experience with processing payroll along with general accounting/bookkeeping experience; Three to five years experience with computerized payroll and accounting systems (ADP and MAS90 preferred); Minimum 2 year associate degree in accounting or comparable accounting/bookkeeping experience.

Email resume and/or application to or fax to 216.298.0388.

Volunteer Opportunities

Back to job listings


About Hospice of the Western Reserve

Hospice of the Western Reserve provides palliative end-of-life care, caregiver support, and bereavement services throughout Northern Ohio.  In celebration of the individual worth of each life, we strive to relieve suffering, enhance comfort, promote quality of life, foster choice in end-of-life care and support effective grieving.

*Please do not submit resumes or any personal information in the comments section*

Hospice Honors WWII Vet, Real-Life Rosie the Riveter

December 29, 2014

A couple married almost seven decades was honored for serving the country during World War II during a special recognition ceremony hosted in their home in Independence Village, a senior living community in Avon Lake, Ohio.

The ceremony was planned by Hospice of the Western Reserve as part of its We Honor Veterans commitment to honoring and celebrating the contributions of veterans in its care, and providing services geared to the unique end-of-life needs of veterans and their families.

Joe and Helen Wilkinson, as well as several of Joe’s family members, were honored at a veterans recognition “pinning ceremony.” The ceremony for the couple, who began dating 74 years ago, included friends, family, members of their couple’s hospice care team, and nine members of the Avon Lake Honor Guard.

Joe, 91, was drafted at 17, serving in the Army’s Air Corps in World War II as a private first class. He was appointed Company Clerk because he was the only newly drafted soldier in the company who knew how to type. He was also charged with ensuring B-26 Maurader bombers were properly loaded.

While Joe was serving overseas, his fiancée, Helen, remained in the United States, working in a “Rosie the Riveter” position in Indiana, securing airplane wings with bolts.

Joe frequently wrote to Helen, eventually telling her he was coming home and to “get the wedding dress ready.” The couple married on Sept. 23, 1945, soon after Joe returned.

The pinning ceremony, which honors veterans, regardless of age or affiliation, included commemorative pins for Joe, as well as for his son Randy Wilkinson (Vietnam Marine Corps), grandson Michael Rowe (Air Force), brothers Paul  Wilkinson (World War II Army Corps of Engineers) and Jack Wilkinson (World War II Tanks Corps) and his daughter Nancy’s father-in-law Russell Rowe (World War II). Jack and Helen were both honored with certificates; Helen for her work stateside.

“I loved serving,” Joe said at the event. “I’d serve again.”

The multi-generational ceremony allowed Joe to remember not only his service to the country, but the courtship that began before he served and culminated in the long-term marriage. The couple, who were raised in CaIMG_0032-1rbon Hill, Ohio and have known each other since they were children.

“I knew I wanted to date Helen but her parents wouldn’t allow it until she was 16,” Joe said. “I’ve known her since she was a little kid. I was best friends with her brother. Our first date was at a party her family threw for her on her 16th birthday.”

The couple took several opportunities to exchange quick kisses after the ceremony which was led by Hospice of the Western Reserve volunteer and Navy veteran Greg Weiss.

Weiss said the ceremony is an important way to commemorate and honor veterans.

“These are some of the most humble people I can meet,” Weiss said. “It’s an honor and a privilege. Watching Joe’s face, I could see he was so proud. It meant so much to him. To have three generations of the same family serve and be honored together is so special.”

Nancy Rowe, Joe’s daughter, said hospice was a huge help.  “As my folks got older I realized the importance of hospice,” she said. “It’s been a relief taking a burden off my shoulders and my brother’s.”



Bassoonists Let Patient Enjoy Long-Awaited Musical Moment

December 29, 2014

IMG_0348 john playing

Pictured: John Janssen plays the bassoon while his wife Virginia (left) listens.

When Virginia Janssen began receiving services from Hospice of the Western Reserve, she had   had two desires, one of which was to hear her husband, John play bassoon.  John had played bassoon in the Canada Military Band before their marriage and she never had the opportunity to hear him play.

During their 39 years of their marriage, he introduced her to classical music and her love of classical music, specifically bassoon, grew.

The couple supports the fine arts when they are able, and were thrilled when they had the opportunity to meet Phillip Austin, bassoonist from the Cleveland Orchestra.

But it wasn’t until recently that Virginia had the chance to hear her husband play.

Virginia’s Hospice social worker referred the couple’s wish to his music therapist, Susan Wilson, but finding a bassoon was difficult due to the expense of the instrument. That’s when two area instructors offered their help.

Marjorie Rutherford, bassoon instructor at the Fine Arts Association of Willoughby, and Carol Chenoweth, retired teacher from the Madison area, graciously offered to provide an in-home concert for the Janssens.

The bassoonists came out to their home on December 11 and shared an hour of bassoon duets including classical and Christmas pieces.

They provided an opportunity for Virginia to finally hear John play the bassoon, just weeks before she died.

The occasion proved memorable for the couple. Virginia has shared that story with every visitor who stops by, adding the experience has brought her much joy.


Meet the Librarian: 5 Questions with Tom Hayes

December 26, 2014

Meet Tom Hayes, the new Hospice of the Western Reserve librarian.librarian2

Q.  How would you introduce yourself in two sentences?
A.  Hi, I’m Tom Hayes. I’m the new librarian.

Q. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about our collection?
A.  That we have multiple copies of titles available at several different locations to accommodate the coverage area of Hospice of the Western Reserve, including titles in all Ashtabula County public libraries thanks to the generosity of the Richard H. Baldwin family.

Q.  What resources are available to employees and the public?

A.  The main library at HQ holds nearly 1600 books and around 19 journal titles.  There is some mixed media as well. These holdings can be searched through the online library catalog on the website. These resources cover many topics related to grief, bereavement, and death. For instance, if your child’s cat were to die our library has several children’s books that address this experience.

David Simpson House has a collection of popular titles, DVDs/VHS, and music recordings on CD, available for families; and there is also a collection of bereavement works in the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center. Ames Family Hospice House also has a small collection.

Book loans can be made to any interested party by contacting I also provide literature searches and will pull articles, book chapters, etc.  This is to say that if a member of the public or an employee has a more complex information need, I can assist with that. Say a family member is interested in how grief or bereavement affects weight gain and any steps that can be taken to address this issue. I can help find this sort of information: general articles, research articles (clinical trials, meta analyses, etc.), I can also point to some texts that we have.

Q.  What is the most popular item in our library?
A.  The most popular item in the library is me.  Just kidding, though I have done my share of lit searches already… I think the most popular items so far have been nursing curricular titles.

Q.  Print or digital? Most surprising thing you’ve learned about our collection?
A. Print. Nothing like holding a book in your hands, flipping pages, smelling ink.



The Man Behind The Lens: From Military Intelligence to Photographic Memories

December 22, 2014

George Weidinger donates his photographs to Hospice of the Western Reserve, but his personal story goes beyond a thousand words.

It was a mystery involving top-secret military work that lasted six decades, and a Mayfield Heights man was in the midst of it: Exactly what went on behind the fences of Fort Hunt in Fairfax County, VA, a secret military intelligence facility, that operated during World War II, was so confidential the outfit remained unknown until 1978.

It was so secret, it was not even given an official name and so confidential, the workers could not even tell their spouses about it.

“We went only by the name ‘P.O. Box 1142,’” World War II veteran and former P.O. Box 1142 monitor George Weidinger, said. “Everybody had to sign a paper to never talk about what went on there. We didn’t say a word, even to the wives. I was only married for six months; we had other things to talk about.”

The unit’s name was designed to avoid detection. Its mission? Help end WWII by gathering information from German prisoners.

The now-defunct facility, once part of George Washington’s farmlands — and the secret military intelligence operations that occurred there — remained a secret until 2007, when documents were released and the significance of the PO Box 1142’s work was publicly acknowledged. Living members of the team reunited in 2007 for a formal dedication.

Weidinger’s path to Fort Hunt was a winding one that began half a world away and eventually led him to Cleveland and the love of his life, his wife Nina.

Born in 1923, he was raised Protestant in Vienna, Austria by his two parents who had converted from Judaism. He was forced to quit school at 15 and his family fled the country, fearing for their lives.

“In 1938 Hitler took over Austria,” he said. “His troops threatened to take my parents to a concentration camp. I was told the next day I couldn’t go to school because I was Jewish.”

His father’s work connections brought the family to Cleveland and the German speaking Weidinger, who never finished high school, began working for a lamp manufacturer on Euclid Avenue.

He tried to join the Marines, but was denied since he was not a United States citizen at the time.  Weidinger was eventually drafted and through connections, put his knowledge of the Germans and his German language skills to work at Fort Hunt.

“I desperately wanted to get into military intelligence,” he said. A friend from Vienna who came over a year earlier and became an intelligence officer, helped him.

At Fort Hunt, where more than 4,000 prisoners of war were housed from 1942 through 1946, members of P.O. Box 1142 interrogated prisoners, listened in on conversations and read their correspondence. Weidinger said the work was mundane and said he didn’t realize until years later of its importance.

“I stayed in the room the size of a closet and used a recording device,” he said. “I was assigned three cells to listen to. Some (prisoners) would sleep, some would talk. If a conversation took place of importance, I would record it.”

Those prisoners included high-ranking enemy officers and scientists of the Third Reich including rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, Heinz Schlicke, inventor of infrared detection and top German spy Reinhard Gehlen. His work resulted in several advances for the United States.

“We found out Peenemünde (a town in Germany) was building V-2 rockets. We bombed the hell out of it,” Weidinger said.

Photographs and memories

While Weidinger’s work at Fort Hunt remained quiet, his life since has been anything but. He and his wife traveled the world extensively before she died 2011, collecting memories and photographs along the way.

“It was love at first sight,” he said of their meeting in 1939. “I was working at a lamp factory called Railley Corp. on Euclid Avenue assembling lamps and there were two young ladies worked in the shipping department. One turned to the other and said: ‘See this guy over there? I will marry him.’ True story.”

Mementos from their travels to 79 countries (including two trips on the Concorde and almost two dozens trips back to Vienna) are purposefully placed throughout his Mayfield Heights house. In addition to souvenirs, including rare paintings and artifacts, are thousand of photos.

Weidinger has meticulously categorized and digitally saved those photos,  framing the best of the best and giving them away.

“I never sell my photos,” Weidinger said. “I give them to people and ask them to make a donation to Hospice of the Western Reserve.” It’s his way of paying back to the organization that cared for his Nina.

To date, he has donated 1,018 framed photographs since Nina’s death, and raised more than $8,400 in memory of the woman he was married to for 69 years. Many of the framed photographs were donated to Hospice of the Western Reserve’s numerous facilities, and adorn hallways and meeting rooms.

Gratitude for the care that Nina received moved George to make this donation.

“After she was admitted to Hospice our whole family came to see her. My granddaughter asked ‘how are they treating you?’ The answer of my wife, ‘Wonderful.’ Knowing what Hospice did for her gives me the incentive to give back something meaningful. I know that giving them something beautiful to look at will help them. And the fact that her name is mentioned is very important to me.”

Pictured above: (Top) Weidinger with some of the photos he’s taken.Framed photos are offered in exchange for a donation to Hospice of the Western Reserve; (middle) memorabilia from his service; (bottom) Weidinger holding a photo of his late wife, Nina.