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Dr. Cleanne Cass, a physician with Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton and a leader in end-of-life care, recently received the 2021 Ohio Osteopathic Association Distinguished Service Award.
“I was very honored to receive the Distinguished Service Award. It was beyond my wildest dreams, and I am very humbled,” said Dr. Cass, director of community services and physician education at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton and director of the hospice and palliative medicine fellowship. “Ohio’s Hospice made it possible for me to participate in every opportunity I have had and motivates me to protect the rights of hospice patients and physicians.”
The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor from the Ohio Osteopathic Association, given to an osteopathic physician each year who has shown outstanding accomplishments in personal, scientific, and professional affairs, especially in service to the osteopathic profession in Ohio.
Dr. Cass was awarded for her advocacy of end-of-life care in the state of Ohio, for her passion for introducing hospice and palliative care education to colleagues, and for her dedicated front-line service at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.
During the recognition ceremony, Dr. Henry Wehrum, president of the Ohio Osteopathic Association, recognized Dr. Cass for her expertise.
“Dr. Cass demonstrates excellence through her expertise and extraordinary compassionate support for her patients and families,” Dr. Wehrum said. “An outstanding role model in hospice and the broader healthcare community, she goes above and beyond for her patients.”
Dr. Cass started her career before hospice became prominent in the United States and was a founding member and the first medical director of Mercy Hospice in Springfield, Ohio, now known as Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice, a service of Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.
“At the time, there was no DNR legislation in Ohio and hospice patients were at risk of having CPR performed if paramedics came to their homes when they were dying,” Dr. Cass said. “Our hospice provided leadership to have the Ohio DNR law passed. Ohio was one of only seven states to do so at the time.”
Throughout her career, Dr. Cass has represented the Ohio Osteopathic Association on state and national task forces pertaining to end-of-life care, including Ohio’s Compassionate Care Task Force, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization National Consensus Project, and the National Quality Forum Palliative Care and Geriatrics Advisory Committee.
She also has served on the Ohio Governor’s Opioid Task Force where she developed recommendations for legislation on safe opioid prescribing.
“My personal concern was always protecting the rights of hospice physicians to prescribe for our patients and to ensure that we were always exempted from the restrictive laws,” Dr. Cass said. “Making sure we were not included in the restrictions in legislation was important to not cripple our ability to prescribe for our patients receiving end-of-life care.”