Parish to offer seminar on hospice, palliative care


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Maggie Dubin of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf knows that people are confused about the difference between palliative care and hospice care. A member of the parish’s Health Ministry Cabinet, she hopes that a seminar on Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the church’s Mary Chapel will increase people’s comfort level with these end-of-life health care topics.


All are welcome to attend the Hospice Outreach Public Education (HOPE) seminar presented by Genesis Health System. To register for the free seminar, call St. John Vianney Parish at (563) 332-7910, ext. 122.

“I volunteer as a nurse at Hospice House. I make calls to families of patients who are getting in-home hospice care. So many have said, ‘Oh, if only we had done this sooner.’ There’s a lack of understanding about what hospice is,” Dubin said. “It just means you’ve decided to drop the most aggressive treatment and let the natural process of death take over. We’ve had patients in hospice for over a year.”


Palliative care “is specialized medical care for people living with serious illness. It focuses on providing relief from symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is a broader philosophy that includes hospice care,” according to the Center for Advanced Palliative Care.

Dubin learned about HOPE while reading the Genesis Health Ministry Newsletter produced by Jennifer Hildebrand, who coordinates Health Ministry for Genesis VNA & Hospice. “The purpose of (HOPE) is to offer free education to the community regarding the topics of end-of-life, advanced directives, hospice and palliative care,” Hildebrand said. “These are topics that the general population does not fully understand and consequently do not utilize the benefits of.”


Heather Wessel, supervisor of Post Acute Care for Genesis Health System, is presenting the St. John Vianney seminar. “We asked Heather to delineate between palliative and hospice care and to talk about the finances,” Dubin said. “People don’t understand how much everything costs and what’s covered and not covered.” Wessel says the presentation’s visuals are powerful and the information provided will offer insights on the continuum of life. Someone who has experience as a hospice worker also will speak.

Giving a presentation in a church setting helps ease people’s anxieties and reluctance to address difficult topics, Wessel said. Her goal is to eliminate people’s misconceptions and to reduce fear so that “when the time comes they can access care for their loved ones.”

Hildebrand hopes other parishes in the Davenport Diocese follow St. John Vianney’s example by scheduling a talk or a series of talks for their congregations. “I would love for the people of the diocese to be better informed on these serious issues. It is not until a parishioner is in a state of emergency that they learn about these things. I would like to help ease the anxiety and frustrations that most people experience when they face end-of-life decisions, due to being uninformed.”

To request a presentation, visit: or contact Wessel at or call (563) 370-7305.

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