Compass Regional Hospice to Offer Vigil Volunteer Training Nov. 29

Sharon Loving

The core of hospice work is providing end-of-life care to patients and their families. Courtney Williams, manager of volunteer and professional services at Compass Regional Hospice, said vigil volunteers help to provide a crucial service to patients facing the last few days of life, as well as the families and caregivers who are with them in those last days and moments.

Compass Regional Hospice will offer a vigil volunteer training session at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at the home of its Grief Support Services, The Hope and Healing Center, 255 Comet Drive, Centreville.

The course will be facilitated by Support Services Supervisor and social worker Sharon Loving.

“The intention of our vigil program is to provide a soothing, serene energy and a space for the dying to transition peacefully,” Williams said. “Just letting our patients and their families know they are safe, they are surrounded by love, and they are never alone is often the greatest gift we can give you.”

A gift offered wherever a patient calls home or in Compass Regional Hospice’s residential care facilities, vigil volunteers can be there to reiterate or remind families of what medical personnel have communicated, suggest comfort care for the patient, sit with the patient while a caregiver has a chance to rest, and reassure caregivers they are doing a good job.

A vigil volunteer is similar to a birth doula, who helps families welcome new life into the world, except the role’s responsibility is to provide comfort and peace while a patient transitions and prepares to leave the world.

Vigil volunteers create a calm and peaceful space through music, aromatherapy, soft lighting, closing doors to reduce noise, turning off televisions and electronic devices, and possibly sitting bedside while silently praying or meditating.

“Some volunteers feel a pull toward this type of work. It’s sometimes called different things, but it’s all about being a steward to help a person transition peacefully,” Williams said. “The common thread in each of our vigil volunteers is that they tend to have a very tranquil, soothing energy and nature about them that emanates and creates a sense of peace.”

Bente Cooney of Grasonville began volunteering with Compass Regional Hospice in 2014. Her goal is to normalize the dying process through volunteering with Compass as a vigil volunteer.

Bente Cooney and Courtney Williams

“I’m comfortable with the end-of-life process. Death is a natural part of life and we all deserve the best possible departure we can have,” Cooney said. “Sitting vigil is more about being than doing most of the time. The vigil volunteer’s job is to be a stable, calm presence and to help create a sacred space while staying alert to any changes. We stay in tune with what the patient needs as they transition.”

She said the hospice movement of the early 1980s was a welcome addition to the health care landscape.

“Hospice is a very healthy and beautiful addition to the care we offer in this country,” Cooney said.

Williams said vigil volunteers must be comfortable having frank conversations about end-of-life issues, need to be comfortable with the dying process and must be able remain calm in the face of change.

“Providing a vigil and being with someone as they are passing is the core of hospice work. Mildred Barnette, former Hospice of Queen Anne’s executive director and one of its founders, would say that we’ve had vigil volunteers since 1985, and we’ve called them different things as the program has evolved, but ultimately, vigil volunteers have always been at the core of Compass Regional Hospice’s offerings as a hospice provider,” Williams said.

For more information about becoming a vigil volunteer, contact Williams at 443-262-4112 or

Compass Regional Hospice – Care on your terms

Compass Regional Hospice is a fully licensed, independent, community-based nonprofit organization certified by Medicare and the state of Maryland and accredited by the Joint Commission. Since 1985, Compass Regional Hospice has been dedicated to supporting people of all ages through the challenge of living with a life-limiting illness and learning to live following the death of a loved one. Today, the organization is a regional provider of hospice care and grief support in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties. “Care on your terms” is the promise that guides staff and volunteers as they care for patients in private residences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and the residential hospice centers in Centreville and Chestertown. Grief support services are offered to children, adults and families of patients who died under hospice care, as well as members of the community who are grieving the loss of a loved one, through The Hope and Healing Center. For more information about Compass Regional Hospice, visit

Mid-Shore Health: The Goal of Control at the End of Life

There is little doubt that one of the paramount issues for those facing the last phase of their lives is one of control. From such things as pain management to document the end of life wishes with family members, the patient is eager to control as much of the process as possible.

And one of their primary allies in maintaining that control is working with their local hospice as early as possible. That is the central message we received when talking to Talbot Hospice’s medical director, Mary DeShields, and its executive director, Vivian Dodge when talking to the Spy the other day.

With the national average hospice care period lasting only two to three weeks, the options and time for solid planning are minimal. That is why Mary and Vivian are strong advocates for patients and families to enter into hospice care almost immediately after a terminal diagnosis, which allows up to six months for them to prepare appropriately and guarantee the most comfortable end of life strategies possible.

This long-range approach also applies to palliative care which takes of those between acute care and end of life care. This stage for those with a chronic illness this is likely to result in death also requires a multidisciplinary management approach that, like hospice, is directed around the wishes of the patient and dramatically improve their day-to-day quality of life.

That is the primary reason that Talbot Hospice has been taking steps this year to strengthen their palliative care role with a new initiative to work more closely with community physicians and their patients.  By adding the local hospice team, both doctors and those under their care can greatly benefit patients with symptoms, and the emotional side of these serious chronic conditions.

The Spy sat down with Mary and Vivian at Talbot Hospice last week for a brief discussion of these issues.

This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Hospice please go here

Mid-Shore Careers: Mental Health Careers Found at Channel Marker

While the demand on the Mid-Shore to fill skilled job openings has never been higher, especially in such fields as cyber-security, healthcare, or a range of traditional trades from welding to culinary management, it was interesting for the Spy to note that there are still career openings for what is known as generalists. These well-educated, “jacks of all trades, masters of none” young people have demonstrated their ability to achieve in their coursework in education, but sometimes not with a clear vocation in mind when it’s completed.

But one option open to many that fall into this category is in the growing field of mental health, and that is indeed the case with Channel Marker, Inc. which serves the Mid-Shore region helping those suffering from a variety of these conditions.

The Spy sat down with two of Channel Marker’s staff who have found themselves in a profession they have not only grown to love but offers significant opportunities for career advancement. Heather Chance, a residential coordinator with the organization, and Kelly Holden, its HR and training director, to talk about their rewarding careers helping those with these afflictions navigate back into being productive citizens in the community, their professional growth, and the opportunities that await other to follow in their footsteps.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Channel Marker and review the list of job openings go here


Benko Named SRH HEART Team Member of the Month for September

UM Shore Regional Health has named Alison Benko as a Team Member of the Month for September.

Benko, who is a bedside nurse in the Emergency Department at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, was described by a patient as “attentive, knowledgeable and empathetic – she went above and beyond to provide exceptional care.”

As part of UM Shore Regional Health’s Celebrate with Heart recognition program, the HEART Team Member of the Month honor promotes UM SRH values of Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence among the health care network’s 2,500 employees.

Shore Regional Health Announces New Chief Quality Officer

Diane (Dee) Murphy has joined the senior leadership team of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health as chief quality officer.  Murphy came to the regional health care network in August 2018 from Northwest Health, Arkansas where she served as system chief quality officer. In that capacity, she provided oversight for quality and performance improvement for five acute care hospitals and 35 physician practices. Previously, she was the chief quality officer at Western Arizona Regional Medical Center; she also served as a Navy nurse and a surveyor at the Joint Commission.

Murphy’s educational credentials include a doctorate in health administration from the University of Phoenix; a master’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb; and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University.

“We are delighted to bring Dee Murphy on board at Shore Regional Health,” says Ken Kozel, president and CEO, UM SRH. “Her vast experience in health care quality management leadership, risk management, infection prevention, patient advocacy, and accreditation makes her a great asset to our organization.”

Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital at Easton Volunteers Honored for Service Milestones

Members of the Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital at Easton were honored for their service milestones at the Auxiliary’s annual volunteer luncheon. Held on October 18, 2018 at the Tred Avon Yacht Club in Oxford, Md., the celebrated 56 volunteers whose combined total hours in the service of the Auxiliary exceeded 198,000 as of May 31, 2018.

“Each year the auxiliary dedicates thousands of hours to benefit patient care at Shore Medical Center at   Easton and numerous outpatient locations,” says Patti Willis, senior vice president, Strategy and Communications,UM Shore Regional Health. “Whether raising funds, answering phones, conducting screenings or helping patients find their way, our volunteers play a vital role in UM Shore Regional Health’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.”

The Auxiliary raises funds through its management of Maggie’s Gift Shop in UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, the Bazaar at 121 Federal Street and various special vendor sales. Funds raised help pay for new technology, facility upgrades and educational needs for the hospital and local outpatient facilities, including the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center and the Cancer Center. Auxiliary volunteers also assist with services such as wheelchair and patient escorts, blood pressure screenings and front desk reception in the hospital and in various outpatient locations.

Volunteers honored at the luncheon were those who had achieved service milestones ranging from 100 hours to 18,000 hours, as follows:

100 hours: Suzie Brannegan, Jane Ernst, Jack Lane, Gabrielle May, Krishna Patel, Mike Scheidt, Judy Smith, Debbie Watson; 250 hours: Jane Holly, Kathy Hotz, Kirstie Kingston, Dan Mautz, Pat O’Shea; 500 hours: Bea Juliano, Diane Ries, Sherry Spencer, Bryant Wheeler; 750 hours: Phyllis Matthai, Mary McArtor, Bonnie Messix, Val Tate; 1,000 hours: Robert Gretzinger, Leslie Leadbeater, Barbara Nickerson, Janet Pfeffer; 1,500 hours: Patricia Collins, George King, Daniel Tanner; 2,000 hours: Mary Ann Ray; 2,500 hours: Rae Bathgate, Liz Hannegan, William Hough, Annabel Lesher, Donald O’Brien, Nancy Wolf; 3,500 hours: Nancy Espenhorst, Margaret Gree; 4,000 hours: Ruth Cecil 4,500 hours: Regina Holland, William Jenkins, Anita Rowan; 5,500 hours: Art Cecil, Brenda Prettyman; 6,000 hours: Barbara Brown, Janet Granger 6,500 hours: Celia Bodmer, Patsy Fearins; 7,000 hours: Joyce Kent; 7,500 hours: Carolyn Behr; 9,000 hours: Gail Jenkins; 9,500 hours: Sabine Simonson, Terry Stephan; 12,000 hours: Elva Pierce; 14,500 hours: Joe Schultz; 16,000 hours: Margaret Blairl 20,000 hours: Pauline Lane.

About UM Shore Regional Health: As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,600 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

For All Seasons Presents Conversation to End Sexual Violence

On Thursday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m., For All Seasons will offer a conversation to end sexual violence with speaker Don McPherson, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, activist and feminist. McPherson’s topic, “You Throw Like a Girl: A Conversation to End Sexual Violence,” will discuss one of the issues of our time – men’s violence against women.

For more than 34 years, McPherson has used the power and appeal of sports to address complex social justice issues. He has created innovative programs, supported community service providers and has provided educational seminars and lectures throughout North America.

He comments, “Women have always been in this conversation about sexual violence. Now it’s time to bring the conversation together with men and women. This discussion is directed primarily at men and focuses on language such as ‘you throw like a girl’ that sets a standard on the narrow expectations of masculinity while simultaneously establishing an understanding that girls and women are ‘less than” men.’”

He adds, “The ‘Me Too’ movement provides an opportunity for men to not just stand in solidarity with women but make real change in the root causes of sexual violence.  My presentation focuses on nurturing positive language and a healthy understanding of masculinity.”

According to Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Season, people are just trying to figure out where we go from here and what we do now that this issue is front and center in the media. She states, “Not talking about it is not an option. We need to have conversations that are pro-social and protect our families and individuals. We have to find age appropriate ways to have the conversation and by having Don here, we can start that conversation in our community.”

As an athlete, McPherson was a unanimous All-America quarterback at Syracuse University and is a veteran of the NFL and Canadian Football League. Since 1984 McPherson has delivered school and community-based programs addressing issues such as drunk driving, alcohol and substance abuse, bullying, youth leadership and mentoring.  Upon retiring from pro football in 1994, he joined Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, as National Director of Athletes in Service to America.  In 1995, McPherson turned his focus to the issue of “men’s violence against women,” as director of Sport in Society’s Mentors in Violence Prevention Program and emerged as a national leader and advocate for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence.  He has conducted workshops and lectures for more than 300 college campuses, community organizations and national sports and violence prevention organizations.  His programs and lectures have reached more than one million people.

McPherson has received several honors in recognition of his service, including the Frederick Douglas Men of Strength Award, given by Men Can Stop Rape; Champions for Change, presented by Lifetime Television; The Creative Vision for Women’s Justice, presented by the Pace University Women’s Justice Center; and a Leadership Award from the National Center for Victims of Crime.  He has served as a board member, consultant and advisor for several national organizations including the Ms Foundation for Women and the National Football Foundation and the US National Committee for UN Women.  McPherson recently joined the Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University.

The For All Seasons event, to be held in the Gold Room at the Tidewater Inn at 101 E. Dover Street, is free and open to the public. To reserve your seat, visit or call 443-258-2130.

Throughout the year, For All Seasons brings awareness to the community about such issues as suicide, sexual assault, trauma, and mental health needs.For All Seasons provides Trauma Certified Individual, Family, and Group Therapy; Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry; and Crisis and Advocacy Services for Child, Adolescent, and Adult Victims of Sexual Assault, Rape and Trauma. For a same-day crisis appointment, call 410-822-1018.

Follow For All Seasons on Facebook to find out how to get involved. For further information, call Monika Mraz at 410-822-1018, email or visit

Talbot Hospice Plans Activities for National Hospice & Palliative Care Month

November is National Hospice & Palliative Care month, and Talbot Hospice is planning several free activities to help people understand all that hospice and palliative care have to offer.

Every year, nearly 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive care from hospices in this country, according to a National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) report. Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their family caregivers when a cure is not possible.

“It is essential that people understand that hospice and palliative care is not giving up, it is not the abandonment of care, it is not reserved for the imminently dying,” said Edo Banach, president and CEO of the NHPCO. “Hospice is a successful model of person-centered care that brings hope, dignity and compassion when they are most needed.”

On November 15, 10 a.m. Talbot Hospice and Anne Arundel Medical Center are hosting a screening and discussion of the documentary “Being Mortal.” The event will take place at Talbot Hospice, 586 Cynwood Drive, Easton, and is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. This PBS FRONTLINE film is based on the bestselling book by Atul Gawande, MD. The documentary explores the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness and their relationships with the physicians who treat them. Following the screening, audience members are invited to participate in a guided conversation on how to identify and take concrete steps to communicate wishes about end-of-life goals and preferences.

On November 30, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Talbot Hospice will host an Advance Directive Workshop at Brookletts Place – Talbot Senior Center, 400 Brookletts Avenue, Easton. A brief presentation about the importance of advanced healthcare planning will be followed by one-on-one assistance with completing advance directive paperwork including the Five Wishes. Five Wishes is an easy-to-complete form that helps document the person you want to make decisions for you when you can’t, the kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want, how comfortable you want to be, how you want people to treat you, and what you want your loved ones to know.

All of these events are free and open to the public. To register for any of these activities, call 410-822-6681.

Talbot Hospice has been providing hospice care and grief support since 1981. More information about hospice services, palliative care, and advance healthcare planning is available at or by calling 410-822-6681.

Open House Celebration Set For UM Diabetes Center’s 10th Anniversary

The University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology will celebrate its 10th year of service as part of UM Shore Regional Health with an open house on Friday, November 16, 1:30 to 3:30 pm., in the Nick Rajacich Health Education Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton.

The anniversary celebration will provide guests the opportunity to meet and talk with Center providers, educators and staff and to hear from patients with diabetes about how the Center has helped them maintain optimal wellness. Also offered will be a diabetes-friendly food prep demonstration by Karen Hollis, diabetes educator, information and resources about treatment options and resources, and light fare refreshments provided by sponsors Tandem Diabetes Care and Sanofi Diabetes.

According to Trish Rosenberry, regional director, Multi Specialty Clinics for UM Shore Regional Health, the UM Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology is the only diabetes specialty clinic on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Center’s mission is to provide the highest level of comprehensive diabetes care through prevention, treatment, education and research. In addition to the Center in the Easton hospital, diabetes providers and educators see patients in the Multi-Specialty Clinic in Chestertown. The diabetes educators also lead monthly support groups are held Cambridge, Chestertown, Denton and Easton.

“Diabetes and pre-diabetes are very prevalent in this region, as high as 12.7 percent for diabetes and much higher for pre-diabetes,” says Rosenberry. “Our Diabetes Center has served more than 50,000 patients in 10 years of operation in the Easton hospital’s Freeman Outpatient Center.”

The UM Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology team includes Dr. Bayan Mesmar, MBBS, nurse practitioners Doris Tate and Lisa Bronaugh, and three diabetes nurse educators, Karen Canter, Karen Hollis and Chrissy Nelson. Together, they offer a deep understanding of the physical, cognitive, and emotional demands of diabetes and endocrine disorders as well as the most innovative treatment strategies.

To attend the Diabetes Center’s 10th anniversary open house, please RSVP by calling 410-822-1000, ext. 5186 by November 12, 2018.

Alzheimer’s Association Upper Shore Dementia Caregivers Conference November 13

The Alzheimer’s Association Upper Shore Dementia Caregivers Conference on Tuesday, November 13 in Chestertown, Md., will provide information and resources to families who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Healthcare professionals that work with a geriatric population are also encouraged to attend.

The half-day event—from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.—will be held at Heron Point of Chestertown, 501 E. Campus Avenue, Chestertown, MD 21620.

Topics include how to distinguish between a senior moment and an early sign of cognitive impairment; ways to communicate throughout the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and when to consider in-home care. “The focus of the conference is to address the challenges that caregivers face throughout the progression of the disease,” says Education Coordinator Cynthia Prud’homme. “We want people who are affected by the disease to know that the Alzheimer’s Association is here to provide support.” The 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) is available day or night in more than 200 languages.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.