Letter to the editor: County dealt with the issue of death

What will touch 100 percent of us during our lifetimes, but most of us don’t talk about? Death. Addison County has done very well in 2017 tackling this issue, but there is more to do. First we need to celebrate what has been done, so in the spirit of the “Chronology — a year in review” here are some highlights to note:
•  Porter bolsters Palliative Care with the return of a familiar specialist — Dr. Diana Barnard.
•  The “Being Mortal Project” presents issues in end-of-life care to over 200 residents.
•  The Middlebury Rotary grants funds to ARCH, which strengthens the “Music and Memory” program at Helen Porter and motivates Hospice Volunteer Services to support the program as well.
•  “Living with Dying — An Addison County Partnership” begins a regular appearance in the Addison Independent with an interactive column for the community.
•  Advance care planning clinics assist residents with conversations about options at end of life, which ultimately results in completed advance directives — a gift to family members.
•  Over 25 community members are trained as hospice volunteers to companion people at the end of their life.
•  UVM Larner College of Medicine — through a grant by Cabot Cheese — creates an “End of Life Doula” Professional Certificate program which four Addison County residents complete.
•  PMC and ARCH partner to fundraise for renovations at Helen Porter, including a new end-of-life care center.
•  “Stories from the Hearth” brings over 100 people to see community members share their poignant stories and reflective music of love, loss and healing.
•  Marcia Wheeler, the foundation and inspiration for the hospice program in Addison County, who brought her skills, dedication and compassion to so many of our friends and family at the end of life, retired. We will miss her.
We look forward to continuing these initiatives and starting new ones in order to provide the best care possible to our community. We need to get this right, for we only get one chance.
A deep expression of gratitude to all who supported these efforts throughout the year with your shared wisdom, your generous resources, your memorable stories and your human vulnerability.
Laurie Borden
Hospice Volunteer Services and Addison Respite Care Home

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