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Saluting the heroism of men and women in military service is proudly on display during some of our nation's most patriotic holidays — Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day, to name a few.
During the week of Veterans Day, Sharp HospiceCare celebrates patients who have served in the U.S. military by holding flag ceremonies. The celebrations are part of the We Honor Veterans program developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"The individuals who have selflessly dedicated their lives to protecting our country in peace and wartime deserve to be recognized," says Suzi K. Johnson, vice president of Sharp HospiceCare. "The celebrations we are having for our patients are a way for us to say thank you for all they have done for their country."
The ceremonies typically take place in patients' homes, Sharp HospiceCare residences and other venues throughout San Diego County. During the ceremony, a patient receives a U.S. flag that was flown on the USS Midway aircraft carrier. The flags are presented by fellow veterans.
However, to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sharp HospiceCare has had to adjust how they honor their patients.
"Our practice during this pandemic has been to still honor all who served," says Denise Kelly, program coordinator for volunteer services at Sharp HospiceCare.
This year, with the patient's or family's permission, Sharp HospiceCare We Honor Veterans volunteers visit patients' homes to place yard signs that say 'Honoring All Those Who Served.' We Honor Veterans pins and certificates are also distributed on the doorsteps for the patients or their family to receive contact-free.
The We Honor Veterans program is also focused on providing hospice care staff and volunteers with training, education and resources for improving care for veterans, as well as recognizing the important contributions they have made through their military service.
More than 2,700 hospices nationwide participate in the We Honor Veterans program. Participating hospices follow a tiered plan geared toward educating staff on recognizing the unique needs of caring for veterans as it relates to their military service, combat experience or other traumatic events. Other objectives include supporting strategic community partnerships and increasing veterans' access to hospice and palliative care.
Along with the veteran-centric health care education that staff receive, the program also emphasizes respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment as part of delivering quality care.
"Sharp HospiceCare is happy to take part in the We Honor Veterans program," says Johnson. "Recognizing our patients through these special flag ceremonies, as well as providing compassionate care tailored toward their needs, are essential in making our patients feel comfortable and appreciated."
The Sharp Health News Team are content authors who write and produce stories about Sharp HealthCare and its hospitals, clinics, medical groups and health plan.
Denise Kelly is a Sharp HospiceCare program coordinator.
When her husband became critically ill, Sharp employee Armida Luna donated a kidney as part of a cross-country donation chain that saved 5 lives.
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