word cloud using hospice termsPrograms

Focusing on Living with Hospice Care

In February 2023, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced that he was entering hospice care. Over six months into his hospice care, Former President Carter is still receiving the care he needs at his home in Georgia. Hospice has long been a word with negative connotations, becoming synonymous with imminent death. When a loved one hears the word ‘hospice’ from a doctor, they believe that hope is lost, and someone’s passing is impending. That couldn’t be further from the truth about hospice care.

According to the National Institute on Aging, hospice care “focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life.”  Hospice is often elected when a patient has no possible treatment options or elects not to undergo continued treatment for a life-limiting illness, and the medical care received switches from curing the patient to ensuring the patient is comfortable.

At the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), our hospice care provides the following:

  • Managing pain and symptoms – help controlling pain and symptoms through medication management and non-clinical therapy services.
  • Medication management – help monitoring and administering medication.
  • Care wherever you call home – providing care at your home, an assisted living facility, the hospital, or the VNA Hospice House.
  • Counseling and support – support from bereavement counselors, social workers and chaplains who help guide the patient and family through this time.
  • Personal care – help with bathing, grooming and personal care.
  • Volunteer support – support from volunteers for companionship, respite for the caregiver, or help running errands.
  • Hospice care has specific guidelines for eligibility; typically, it is for patients with a life-limiting illness who have a prognosis of six months or less and are no longer seeking curative treatments. Additionally, a physician’s referral is needed before a patient can receive hospice care. The VNA’s mission is focused on ensuring all our patients experience optimal quality of life at all times, the cornerstone of the definition of hospice care.

    It’s often the myths pertaining to “what is hospice” that prevent patients from starting hospice at a time when they would most benefit from it. Many times, patients only receive hospice care for a few days prior to their death. Former President Carter’s announcement was a gift from a very philanthropic man, a gift of knowledge and understanding of hospice that he shared with the world. Now six months into his hospice care, Former President Carter exemplifies the fact that hospice is not just for that last week or those last few days before someone passes. Hospice is a care plan focused on the comfort of the patient so that they can live those last few months with dignity and optimal quality of life. It creates an environment that removes the biggest fears people have about death – being in pain, being alone, and being a burden to others.

    Former President Jimmy Carter will be remembered for many accomplishments – his presidency, his philanthropic endeavors, and his Nobel Peace Prize to name a few. For the VNA, we are forever grateful that he decided to put a spotlight on hospice care, bringing awareness to millions of what hospice truly is and hopefully dispelling the many myths surrounding the word. We can only hope that his announcement will make it easier for patients and families to elect hospice care, knowing it’s about living more than dying.


    Becoming A Champion for the VNA Through the Golf-A-Thon

    In 2007, Deb Lockwood began her relationship with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) through our annual Golf-A-Thon fundraiser. Deb and her husband Mike, members of Indian River Club, wanted to support their club pro, Joe Kern, during his marathon day of golf that benefited the VNA’s Charitable Care Program. As friends of Joe’s, they wanted to volunteer their time out on the golf course the day of the event and make a donation to support him.

    Shortly after Deb began volunteering for the Golf-A-Thon, her father-in-law needed home hospice care from the VNA. Deb thought that hospice was only for the last week of someone’s life, but her experience with VNA Hospice for her father-in-law’s care opened her eyes. Deb saw firsthand that hospice is so much more. Of the VNA’s services, Deb noted: “It was an awesome way for him to be able to stay at home because that’s what they wanted, to be able to have quality care come to the house.”

    It wasn’t just the care he received, it was the support for the family as well. Deb was impressed by the educational component of hospice care, helping the family understand the different stages of end-of-life. “It was a great way to help not only him but also a family through end-of-life,” she said.

    After her firsthand experience with the VNA, Deb has continued her support through her Golf-A-Thon participation. She continues to donate her time volunteering the day of the event and financially support the VNA through this annual event. Serving on the Golf-A-Thon Committee for Indian River Club since 2019, Deb loves that she can see her effort through the end result. Deb has seen the Golf-A-Thon become more successful year after year. She knows she is a part of making that happen while helping patients receive the care they need.

    Her time on the Golf-A-Thon Committee also gives her the opportunity to learn more about VNA’s programs and services through educational sessions held with the 60-plus members of the Committee. Deb was surprised to learn about the breadth and depth of VNA’s services, including the VNA’s Respite Care Program at the VNA Hospice House, We Honor Veterans, the VNA Mobile Health Clinic and so much more. Deb’s involvement with the Golf-A-Thon as a donor, volunteer and Committee member has reinforced her belief that the VNA’s mission is a good cause worth supporting.

    Deb’s philanthropic endeavors span across multiple non-profits in our area. She served for many years on the board and committees of the Indian River Community Foundation. She has an active role with Head, Heart & Hands of Indian River Club as well. It was this work that made her aware of the needs in our community. For a long time, Deb thought of philanthropy as exclusively monetary donations because while she was busy traveling most weeks of the year for work, she only had time to write a check. But when her travel time lessened and she retired, Deb realized that donating time is also needed and can be just as meaningful as a monetary donation. She enjoys volunteering to assist organizations with their strategic planning as well as events like the Golf-A-Thon and plans to continue to do so.

    Deb told us: “I think philanthropy is important not only for the community and the organizations and the people that need the help but also for you as a person to reinforce just how thankful you should be.” We are thankful there are people like Deb in our community who understand the importance of philanthropy and are willing to donate their time and funds to ensure those who need help receive it. Deb and others like her are champions of the VNA, philanthropically supporting us to ensure we can achieve our mission in the community.

    Image of Bill & Kate FreemanPrograms

    VNA Hospice House – A Gift from Our Donors

    The VNA Hospice House opened its doors in 2000, creating a place where hospice patients could go when they could no longer manage their care at home. Careful consideration was taken to ensure the 12-bed facility felt more like a home and less like a cold, sterile medical facility. The VNA wanted to ensure that patients at their end-of-life journey had a space for them and their families to experience dignity and compassion in those final days.

    Kate Freeman knew of VNA Hospice through her clients and the community. She experienced the VNA firsthand in 2019 when she visited the VNA Hospice House to see a close friend, experiencing his passing while there. “The whole experience was really rather beautiful and peaceful,” Kate said of her first VNA experience.

    In 2022, the Freeman Family faced a tragic situation that brought them back to the VNA Hospice House for their son Jack. While Jack was in the hospital, Kate made the decision to bring him to the VNA Hospice House, knowing she wanted to be in a place that would focus on a peaceful transition for both Jack and her family. Kate knew moving Jack would mean he and the family would have privacy while surrounded by dignity in a non-institutional setting.

    The Freeman’s knew this was not a typical hospice case. Jack had been young and physically healthy, but a mental health crisis had become too much for him. The situation was emotionally intense for the whole family, but to Kate, being at the VNA Hospice House was about giving the family and Jack the opportunity to say goodbye. Jack’s siblings noted the importance of having space to say goodbye to their brother in their own way. The ability to have privacy and leave the room to visit the gardens or gathering space made the whole experience feel more personal to them.

    Of the whole experience, Bill Freeman said “The entire environment…the staff was extraordinary.” Kate added that peacefulness surrounded the entire four days Jack spent at the VNA Hospice House. The family was able to come and go as they needed, with family members arriving late at night or early in the morning and his siblings staying overnight and sleeping sometimes on the floor next to Jack’s bed. The room’s porch allowed the family another space to sit and visit with friends who would come by to give support to the Freeman’s during this time. Kate noted that “people react differently to grief and tragedy” and the VNA Hospice House’s thoughtful setup gave the family the different spaces they needed to process this situation.

    Summarizing it perfectly, Kate noted that the VNA Hospice House “let us be Freeman’s” and handle things their own way. The staff balanced giving the family the space they needed during such an emotionally charged experience while providing the care that Jack and the family needed. Kate and Bill believe that it would have been a challenge to find the space to do what they needed to do in a hospital setting, so they know they made the right decision to move Jack to the VNA Hospice House. And the family is grateful for this community resource. “All your donors gave us that gift,” Kate notes of being able to say goodbye to Jack in a way that was dignified and peaceful.

    Through the generosity of our donors the VNA Hospice House was built and later renovated. And every year, our donors, understanding the importance of this facility, support the operation of the VNA Hospice House through donations to the VNA & Hospice Foundation. Our loyal donors are the reason that the Freemans, and so many other families, have the support and space they need during an emotional and challenging time. Supporting the VNA brings dignity, peace and compassion to patients and families experiencing end-of-life.

    If you or someone you know is struggling, there are a variety of resources in our community. You can call The Mental Health Association (772-569-9788),  or The Mental Health Collaborative (772-217-3663) to get the support needed.

    A senior couple talking with an estate planner.News

    August is National Make a Will Month

    Do you have a will? Have you been thinking – ‘I need to put together a will’? Well, now is the time!

    A will is an important document, allowing you to select the persons or entities who will receive what you own when you pass away. Without a will in place, the state will decide how your property is divided. You may or may not have a large estate, but having peace of mind knowing that your assets will be divided the way you wish is worth taking the time now to put those thoughts into action. A will allows you to dictate how your assets are distributed, it can be changed if your circumstances change, and it should be reviewed every few years, especially after major life events, such as marriage, births, etc.

    August marks National Make a Will Month. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) & Hospice Foundation would like to encourage you to consider leaving a lasting impact by including us in your estate plans. By doing so you can support the VNA’s unwavering commitment to provide exceptional care to those who are uninsured or underinsured.

    Leaving a legacy is about more than just financial support; it’s about ensuring that future generations have access to the crucial care and services they deserve. By including the VNA & Hospice Foundation in your estate plans, you have the power to make a profound difference in the lives of individuals who rely on our services.

    The VNA’s comprehensive programs are designed to address the diverse needs of our community. Through the VNA Hospice program, individuals and their families receive compassionate end-of-life care, allowing them to navigate this challenging journey with dignity and support. The VNA Mobile Health Clinic provides vital healthcare services to those who are unable to access traditional medical facilities, ensuring that no one is left behind. Additionally, the VNA Home Health program offers professional medical care and support to individuals who are recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, in the comfort of their own homes.

    By including the VNA & Hospice Foundation in your estate plans, you are making a lasting impact on the lives of those who are most vulnerable. Your generosity will help ensure that the VNA’s programs continue to thrive, allowing us to provide care to residents in our community for years to come. Including the VNA & Hospice Foundation in your estate plans also grants you membership into our Nightingale Legacy Society. You would join a generous group of individuals who understand the need for the VNA’s programs and services in our community now and in the future.

    Please join us this month and become a member of our Nightingale Legacy Society and allow us to thank you for your future support! Click here to download our free Estate Planning Guide.

    Home health nurse taking a happy patients blood pressure.News

    VNA Donors – Their Impact by the Numbers

    The Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast (VNA) touches many lives every day and it’s our donors that allow us to help bring care to those who need it. Through specialized programs and services, we provide care focused on the whole person, ensuring our patients always experience optimal quality of life. VNA & Hospice Foundation Director of Development, Michelle Deschane, notes, “Our donors are an integral piece of the VNA family, allowing us to provide essential programs and services to members of our community.”

    During our last fiscal year, through the generosity of our donors, the VNA was able to:

      • Perform 91,504 home health visits to 4,257 patients
      • Cover $537,177 to pay for the care of 186 patients who couldn’t afford the healthcare they needed
      • Care for 1,811 hospice patients for a total of 63,974 days of hospice care
      • Grant 15 end-of-life wishes to hospice patients through our Project Wish Program
      • See 4,032 patients on the VNA Mobile Unit
      • Administer 1,420 flu and COVID-19 vaccines
      • Educate 592 individuals on their healthcare needs through our Community Health Services
      • Screen 345 patients during 34 health screening clinics held throughout the county

    Whether it’s home health, private care, hospice or community health services, the VNA is committed to ensuring our patients and their families are cared for physically, emotionally and spiritually. That is the essence of whole person care. According to CEO Lundy Fields, “Whole person care goes beyond just providing episodic care for our patients. Whole person care means evaluating the patients’ environment to determine if there are ways the VNA can assist them to improve the care experience and deliver on our WHY? Statement: as a team to provide excellent care to patients and families–with integrity, compassion, knowledge and love, so that patients experience optimal quality of life at all times.”

    When it’s broken down into those numbers, it’s amazing to see how many people VNA has helped with the support of our donors. Behind those numbers are uplifting stories about the whole person care the VNA brings to our patients and families, which includes quality medical care, emotional support, comfort, relief, and so much more. The VNA strongly believes in our mission to care for everyone in the community, including the underserved populations in need of care. And it’s your support that makes our mission a reality. You bring whole person care into homes all around this community making an impact on the lives of those who need our services.

    VNA Volunteer Marie B. sits bedside with VNA Hospice patient Lucy.News

    Volunteers Help Deliver the VNA Mission Every Day

    At any given time, the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) has approximately 400 volunteers helping us care for our patients in a variety of ways. From helping serve patients lunch at the VNA Hospice House to working in our Hidden Treasures Thrift Store to socializing with hospice patients, our volunteers are at the heart of what we do. Our loyal volunteers help the VNA deliver on our mission of providing the highest quality of care to those in need, ensuring optimal quality of life for patients and their families at all times.

    Marie B. is a newer volunteer, joining the VNA family in November 2022. After moving to the area right before COVID-19 and then finding herself as an empty nester, Marie was looking for a way to fill her days with volunteer work. One day, when shopping at Hidden Treasures, Marie decided to explore the different volunteer opportunities the VNA offers. Though Marie indicated on her volunteer application her willingness to perform any type of volunteer role, she found her niche being a respite volunteer.

    By providing respite care, Marie sits with hospice patients allowing their caregivers to run errands, go to appointments or just take a step away from the caregiver role for an hour. As someone who has experienced loss firsthand, Marie understands the complexity of dealing with a patient in hospice care and the need for caregivers to get a much-needed break. Marie knows what it is like to care for someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and from the start understood the impact she could have on a family by simply keeping a patient company. “It’s important for a caregiver to get out and clear their mind,” said Marie.

    Of the patients she provides respite care for, Marie said they often just want to talk. “They are human; they are worthy and have things to share,” she said. Through these conversations, Marie brings comfort to our patients, gives caregivers much-needed time to recharge, and she also receives a benefit from her work. Marie gets to socialize and truly enjoy her visits with the patients she sees. Marie is an amazing asset to the VNA, using her past experiences to help us give our patients and their families an experience that includes the support they need during a difficult time. Marie, along with all of our volunteers, bring the VNA’s  mission to life every single day in Indian River County. We can’t thank them enough for their dedication to our mission.

    For more information on how you can volunteer to help the VNA and those in our community, go to: vnatc.com/volunteer/.







    2023 Golf-A-Thon Recap

    On Monday, May 1st, 13 local golf pros teed off at Indian River Club to participate in the 33rd Annual VNA & Hospice Foundation Golf-A-Thon. The first Golf-A-Thon was held in 1991 at Orchid Island Golf Club with just four golf pros participating. This inaugural event raised $21,000. Fast forward 33 years and we now have 13 pros participating and this year we raised over $500,000! Contributions made in support of the Golf-A-Thon benefit the VNA’s Charitable Care Program.

    The Golf-A-Thon is such an amazing event. We have a committee of over 60 volunteers from 13 local golf clubs who help make this event happen. These volunteers give the VNA their time by attending monthly meetings and recruiting and coordinating other volunteers who help with the mailing and provide support the day of the event. This year, our Golf-A-Thon volunteers assembled over 10,000 pieces of mail!

    This year’s event once again demonstrates what makes the residents of Indian River County amazing: generosity, compassion, and dedication. We have volunteers who have worked on this event for decades who believe in the VNA’s mission and want to continue to help us achieve our goals. We have individuals willing to donate their time and funds because they believe that everyone who needs home health and hospice services should be able to receive the quality care they desperately need and deserve. This year, we had over 1,600 people who were willing to donate to support this amazing cause and the 13 golf pros who helped us make this event a success.

    Thank you to everyone who helped us make this year’s event not only a fun day but a record-breaking day as well.  Thank you to our 13 pros: Matthew Challenor (Windsor Club), David Champagne (Orchid Island Golf Club), Drew DiSesa (Riomar Country Club), Randy Hedgecock (Vero Beach Country Club), Steve Hudson (John’s Island Club), Ian Killen (Indian River Club), Don Meadows (Quail Valley Golf Club), Frank Mentzer (Oak Harbor Golf Club), Bela Nagy (Sandridge Golf Club), Troy Pare (Grand Harbor Golf Club), A.J. Petrulak (The Moorings Yacht & Country Club), Eddie Suchora (Bent Pine Golf Club), Ryan Zug (Pointe West Country Club). And thanks to Jason Berchtold from Bent Pine Golf Club for subbing in for Eddie Suchora for part of the day!

    A very heartfelt thank you to Indian River Club for hosting the event this year. Head Golf Pro Ian Killen did an amazing job organizing the golf-related aspects of this event and the staff at Indian River Club were instrumental in making sure the event, including the post-event reception, ran smoothly. Our event co-chairs and Indian River Club members, Linda Braun and Deb Lockwood, were instrumental in making the event run smoothly and for that we are extremely grateful. And finally, thank you to all our committee members and the volunteers who helped with all aspects of this event. This event wouldn’t have been successful without your help. We also want to give a special thank you to Pat Gorman. Pat retired from Bent Pine Golf Club last year and he has also participated in the Golf-A-Thon since that inaugural event in 1991. We couldn’t have a Golf-A-Thon without him, and we were thrilled to have him MC the shootout contest at the end of the day.

    As the 33rd Annual Golf-A-Thon ends, we are so grateful for all the support we have seen in this community over all these years. We are already looking forward to the 2024 event and can’t wait to start planning! Stay tuned for the announcement of which golf club will be hosting!








    Using Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) to support the VNA & Hospice Foundation

    Every day, people of all ages use services provided by the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast (VNA). Last year, with philanthropic support they were able to provide $3,423,854 in support of our many programs and services including VNA Hospice and the VNA Mobile Health Clinic. How can you help?

    Did you know that at the age of 70 ½ or older you can take advantage of what is known as a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) or IRA Charitable Rollover AND help the VNA to continue providing quality care in our communities?

    While you can start taking distributions from your Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) as early as age 59 ½, by law you are required to do so beginning at age 73. Normally, these distributions are subject to income taxes. In 2015 Congress made permanent, the IRA Charitable Rollover provision which allows you to donate up to $100,000 ($200,000 per couple) per calendar year from your IRA directly to the VNA once you have reached 70 ½. Bonus, these QCDs, are not considered taxable income when made directly from your IRA to the VNA.

    There are some rules to remember when considering a gift from your IRA.

    • You must be 70 ½ at the time of distribution for this to qualify as a tax-exempt gift.
    • You must make the gift directly to the VNA from the IRA account, if you transfer the funds to your personal account and then send it to the VNA this will be considered taxable income.
    • With the recent passing of the Legacy IRA Act, you may now take a one-time election for a qualified charitable distribution of up to $50,000 (without being taxed) from your IRA to fund a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA). Some limits apply, so contact Maurika Reed for more details at Mreed@vnatc.com or 772-978-5574.

    Potential Benefits

    • A QCD may reduce your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), which can impact Social Security and Medicare premiums.
    • A QCD may benefit you if you use the “standard deduction” because you do not itemize, and therefore, do not claim a charitable tax deduction when you give to charities.
    • A QCD may be beneficial if you do not need any or all of your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).

    How to make a Qualified Charitable Distribution: If making a Qualified Charitable Distribution is right for you, first contact your IRA administrator to initiate the request. VNA & Hospice Foundation is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization categorized as a supporting organization under section 509(a)(3) of the tax code. All QCD gifts must be made payable to the VNA of the Treasure Coast (59-2664912), a qualified charitable organization. QCD gifts should be mailed to:

    VNA & Hospice Foundation
    920 37th Place, Suite 101
    Vero Beach, Florida 32960

    If you have any questions on how you can help support the VNA, please contact Maurika Reed at 772-978-5574 or mreed@vnatc.com.

    Golf pro swinging golf club on lush green turf near lake at sunsetNews

    Teeing Off for the 33rd Year to Support the VNA’s Charitable Care Program

    For the past 32 years, the VNA & Hospice Foundation has organized our annual Golf-A-Thon, bringing together local golf clubs to help support the VNA’s Charitable Care Program. In 1991, four local golf pros participated in the inaugural VNA Golf-A-Thon at Orchid Island Golf Club. This unique event continued to grow and 32 years later, in 2022, 13 pros from our local clubs played at The Moorings Yacht & Country Club, helping us raise over $484,000! Funding from that year’s event allowed the VNA to provide over $533,000 in home health and hospice services for patients through our Charitable Care Program.

    Our Golf-A-Thon is a unique event in Vero Beach. Golf club members donate in support of their golf pro’s participation in the event while supporting the VNA’s mission of providing the highest quality home health, hospice and community health services to those who cannot afford their care.

    On Monday, May 1st, our 13 golf pros will be teeing off at 7 a.m. at Indian River Club in an attempt to play 135 holes of golf. The golf pros for our 33rd annual event are:

    Matthew Challenor – Windsor Club

    David Champagne – Orchid Island Golf Club

    Drew DiSesa – Riomar Country Club

    Randy Hedgecock – Vero Beach Country Club

    Steve Hudson – John’s Island Club

    Ian Killen – Indian River Club

    Don Meadows – Quail Valley Golf Club

    Frank Mentzer – Oak Harbor Golf Club

    Bela Nagy – Sandridge Golf Club

    Troy Pare – Grand Harbor Club

    A.J. Petrulak – The Moorings Yacht & Country Club

    Eddie Suchora – Bent Pine Golf Club

    Ryan Zug – Pointe West Country Club

    Along with our loyal golf pros, we have a dedicated group of Golf-A-Thon Committee members who work with us for five months out of the year to help plan this event. Each of the participating clubs has committee members who attend monthly meetings and serve as VNA ambassadors in their respective clubs. These volunteers give so much of their time to the VNA, this year stuffing more than 10,000 envelopes for our mailing, recruiting volunteers for the event day and promoting the event at their clubs to ensure a successful day.

    Our loyal and generous donors to this event make a huge impact on the lives of those individuals in our community who need our care! If you’d like more information about this year’s Golf-A-Thon, including how you can support your golf pro, please visit: https://vnatc.org/golf-a-thon/.


    close up of a computer keyboard with a red button and the word donate with a heart icon next to itNews

    A tax savvy way to support the VNA & Hospice Foundation

    Every day, people of all ages use the services provided by the VNA. When you give a gift to the VNA & Hospice Foundation, you are helping us provide compassionate, innovative care of the highest quality, setting the standard for patients and caregivers needing home health, hospice, and community health services. The VNA extends this care to the uninsured and underinsured in our community, ensuring healthcare equity for all.

    A donation of appreciated stock may offer you significant tax benefits. Contributions of appreciated securities held for more than one year are generally tax-deductible at market value, regardless of what you paid for the securities. This may provide you with capital gains savings as well as a charitable income tax deduction. It is important to transfer the stock directly to the VNA & Hospice Foundation to take advantage of the tax incentives associated with making this type of gift.

    Consider this strategy: Let’s say you were originally going to donate $10,000 from your personal account; instead, you choose to donate $10,000 in appreciated stock directly to the VNA & Hospice Foundation. Then you reinvest the $10,000 from your personal account back into your portfolio to maintain the same level of investment, but in doing so you were able to increase your stock basis, avoid capital gains tax AND support the VNA & Hospice Foundation for a win, win, win!

    Donating appreciated stock is one of many options that can help reduce tax liabilities while supporting the wonderful programs the VNA has to offer; click here to learn more about these programs. We encourage you to talk with your financial/tax advisors to see what the best strategy for you would be.

    Donating Appreciated Securities: Executing a gift of stock is simple. The transfer of securities from your brokerage account to the VNA & Hospice Foundation is accomplished via the Depository Trust Company (DTC).

    For more information about transferring stock, including account information to initiate a transfer, please contact Maurika Reed, Charitable Gift Planner, at mreed@vnatc.com or at (772) 978-5574.

    If you would like to electronically begin a stock transfer to the VNA without going through a broker, you can do so through our donatestock.com page. Click here to learn more.






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