FRESH MEADOWS, N.Y. To recognize the work the Hospice Care Network, or HCN, has done to increase hospice awareness in the Asian and Hispanic communities of Queens, New York State Assemblyman Jose Peralta, 39th assembly district, presented the organization with a proclamation during a recent news conference at the networks office.
Someone comes to my office every day with a story of a friend or relative who is terminally ill, Peralta says. I didnt know what to tell them or where to send them, but I do now.
To attest to the invaluable service provided to the Asian and Hispanic communities in Queens, family members of patients attended the news conference to give an account of their experience with HCN. Myra Cruz, whose stepfather died last year, admitted she didnt know what hospice was at first. Hospice Care Network made such a big difference in our lives, Cruz says. Just getting a call from his nurse, who is now a family friend, made all the difference.Nurse managers Beth Dehler, RN, left, and Regina Jemmott, RN
Also in attendance were David Zhang, MD, PhD, president of the American Association for Chinese Americans, Ming-der Chang, PhD, vice president of the Asian Initiatives for the American Cancer Society, and Pablo Calle, who came as a representative of the Department of Migrants in the USA. Each discussed HCNs importance to the community.
The conference also was a means to announce the expansion of the Queens-wide Cultural Diversity Outreach Project under its new name, Bridging Cultures with Comfort. The theme was chosen because there are so many bridges to get to Queens and the county is the most diverse in the country, said Cynthia Pan, MD, medical director.
Although Queens has a Hispanic population of 27% and an Asian population of 22%, she said, just 3% of HCNs patients were from those ethnicities before the project began in 2006. Pan noted this was because of cultural taboos about death and dying, lack of understanding about what hospice is, and a lack of access to services.
It was challenging to getting the word out, according to Priscilla LeMarie, cultural diversity program manager. LeMarie set up presentations and met with physicians at healthcare facilities to discuss the program. A lot of MDs didnt even know what hospice was, she said. Theyd ask how it was different from home care.HCN nurse Jane Morris, RN, left, and pastoral care counselor Philip Thomas pose with members of the Cruz family.
Since then, the program has significantly increased the number of patients it serves in both communities, having had an impact on more than 13,000 patients and families, Pan says.
Its a wonderful program because there are so many people who are not aware of hospice and the quality of life it provides from every aspect, says Regina Jemmott, RN, nurse manager. Patients are able to make their own decisions with dignity and have them honored.
Beth Dehler, RN, CHPN, has been with Hospice Care Network for three years, but has been an end-of-life nurse for 20. I get a daily admission list, and its just so exciting to us to know that weve reached out to and have been accepted by those communities that dont traditionally use hospice, she says.