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Porter hires new leader for end-of-life care

MIDDLEBURY — The mission and volunteers of End of Life Services, a non-profit hospice care agency in Addison County, will be integrated into Porter Medical center according to an announcement by the University of Vermont Health Network – Porter Medical Center and End of Life Services Board of Directors. The transition will be effective Dec. 27, and comes nearly six months after the End of Life Services (EOLS) board announced its search for a path forward for the organization.

“It is an honor and privilege for Porter Medical Center to carry on the mission of End of Life Services, and to build on the contributions of their board of directors, staff, and volunteers,” said Porter Medical Center President Tom Thompson. “We share with EOLS a strong commitment to providing compassionate care, and to serving end of life patients and their loved ones. We look forward to taking this program forward and working closely with the dedicated EOLS volunteers.”

Louella Richer will join Porter Medical Center this month to lead the transition of services and volunteers. Richer is an end of life doula and EOLS hospice volunteer who founded Raven’s Witnessing, an online community for healing and connection. She brings 25 years of management experience as well as a deep passion for this work.

“My path was lit by my connection to EOLS and their belief that every person should be able to die in comfort and with dignity,” said Richer. “I will carry that with me as I continue the legacy of EOLS at Porter Medical Center. I look forward to continuing to provide palliative and end of life care in an intentional and caring way for Addison County.”

Richer will oversee hospice volunteers and operations, and lead the program with Diana Barnard, MD. Dr. Barnard, recognized in 2019 by the Madison Dean Education Fund for “Excellence in End of Life Care,” heads the specially-trained Porter Palliative Care Team. The team currently provides physical and psychological support to hospitalized patients and residents of Helen Porter who face the complex challenges of life-limiting or serious illness.

“With the addition of dedicated and highly-trained volunteers, our palliative medicine and end of life services can be expanded,” said Thompson. “As this program grows, we hope to make advanced care advocates available to primary care patients who may be considering plans for end of life.”

“In my time with EOLS, I have been humbled in many ways on many days,” said Susan Cartwright, who has served as Executive Director during this time of transition. “I am grateful for the support and patience of our board, volunteers, and the community asweconsideredthebestpath forward. We all share a deep commitment to the mission of EOLS and want to make sure that patients and their loved ones receive compassionate care when they need it most. Knowing that our work will continue and be embedded in a health care organization is something we can all be proud of. We are grateful that in these challenging times Porter has stepped forward to continue the mission.”

For more than 37 years, EOLS provided volunteers to support the dying and their loved ones by offering bereavement support to those in need, creating spaces for the dying and their family to be together when home is not an option, and offering community education that recognizes death and dying as a part of life.

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