A Stow resident is dedicating her career to improving the care provided to patients with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses here and nationwide.
Karen Vekasy, a clinical nurse specialist and advanced practice nurse education coordinator at Hospice of the Western Reserve, recently was selected to serve on the exam development committee for the National Board of Certification of Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses.
The optional specialty certification program offers exams for nurses, advanced practice providers, nursing assistants, administrators and others in the fields of hospice and palliative care.
Hospice is end-of-life care for patients who are estimated to live about six months, while palliative care can be provided to people with complex illnesses who are not forgoing life-prolonging and curative treatments.
“We’re looking at really helping to determine benefit versus burden that patients are approaching,” she said. “Just because we’re able to do something doesn’t mean it’s necessarily something the patient would want. It’s really talking about the quality of life with patients, not just the quantity of life.”
The Cleveland-based nonprofit program has had an office in Fairlawn for about two years.
In her role with Hospice of the Western Reserve, Vekasy educates new team members and assists providers in the field when needed. She also has provided education about advanced directives and other issues with emergency medical providers in Twinsburg, Macedonia and Boston Heights.
Vekasy said more public awareness is needed about the evolving field, which is being celebrated nationwide throughout November as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
Diane Hartt, provider relations manager for Hospice of the Western Reserve, agreed.
She’s seen firsthand the benefits of the palliative care services her mother, Dorothy VanBuskirk, has received from the organization.
For the past six years, the 94-year-old with congestive heart failure has received support to manage her medications and other issues as needed. Volunteers from Hospice of the Western Reserve also make regular visits.
With the support, Hartt said, VanBuskirk has been able to continue to live more independently in an assisted-living facility in Hudson.
“All that has been very helpful,” VanBuskirk said.
Mercy Medical Center in Canton is sponsoring a free event to help seniors pick Medicare managed-care plans at 9 a.m. Nov. 27 in the medical office building auditorium.
Terri Gursky, Mercy’s Medicare specialist and Stark County Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program coordinator, will give an overview of Medicare options.
Representatives from several Medicare managed-care plans also will be available to answer questions.
Open enrollment for optional Medicare managed-care plans, as well as Part D prescription drug plans, continues through Dec. 7.
For more information about Mercy’s Medicare event or to schedule a one-on-one session with the hospital’s Medicare specialist, call the Mercy Healthcare Connection at 330-489-1333 or 800-223-8662.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.