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Other views: Partners for Hospice are families

Hospice of the Red River Valley has proudly served the residents of this region since 1981. We serve patients in nine North Dakota and six Minnesota counties. We have offices in Mayville, Lisbon, Valley City, Detroit Lakes and Fargo. On average, ...

Hospice of the Red River Valley has proudly served the residents of this region since 1981. We serve patients in nine North Dakota and six Minnesota counties. We have offices in Mayville, Lisbon, Valley City, Detroit Lakes and Fargo. On average, Hospice serves more than 100 patients per day.

Anyone with a life limiting illness can receive care from Hospice of the Red River Valley regardless of the ability to pay. We offer care and comfort for those diagnosed with a terminal illness, and bereavement and counseling services to the families and survivors of those we serve. We consult on death and dying with many entities not directly served by Hospice such as schools and local law enforcement officials. Half of our patients are cancer patients while the other half suffer from heart disease, renal failure, Alzheimer's, dementia and a host of other diseases. Typically, our service allows 98 percent of those we care for to stay at home surrounded by those who care for and love them.

Recently, a for-profit, Texas-based company called Odyssey HealthCare announced they will enter the healthcare market in our area offering end of life services. In a June interview with The Forum, spokespeople from Odyssey indicated they see Hospice of the Red River Valley as a partner and that an additional hospice will benefit the community. This commentary is not meant to debate the merits of competition within the healthcare arena in the community. However, we do take exception to a firm suggesting that Hospice of the Red River Valley is interested in a partnership.

For over 20 years Hospice of the Red River Valley has worked hard to build a solid reputation in this area. That reputation is something we nurture and guard very carefully. This reputation was built by a dedicated and caring staff of professionals. That good reputation belongs as much to Hospice of the Red River Valley as it does to this community because it was this region and this community with your unpaid volunteer hours, your donations, and your memorials that built this organization. If a partnership exists, it is already in place between this community and Hospice of the Red River Valley.

We will not lend our good name and reputation under the guise of a "partnership" to help an unknown entity build credibility. Lending that reputation to an outside entity would be a slap in the face to those who have helped build this organization. Would this community feel we have sold them out if we partnered with a for-profit hospice? We think so, and any partnership Hospice of the Red River Valley enters with any organization will have at its base the benefit of those we serve.

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We are very fortunate to have many kind and generous benefactors. We feel we are good stewards of those funds. However, we are not a group of investors seeking to turn a profit and increase the value of some stock at the same time we are serving terminally ill patients and helping their families grieve and work through the death of a loved one. Is this what a Hospice should be and do?

We are Hospice of the Red River Valley and we are your hospice. Like many of you, we live here and we die here. And, with God's grace, many of us die here under the care of a not-for-profit hospice health care provider. The feedback we receive from this community suggests you want Hospice of the Red River Valley to continue to be a strong and vibrant organization. The board of directors is committed to ensuring our hospice remains an ongoing and long lasting provider of care in this community. If that means partnering, we will partner to benefit the patients and families we serve.

Tweiten is president of the board of directors of Hospice of the Red River Valley. E-mail Russ.Tweiten@noridan.com

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