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Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton Starlight Therapy Subject of National Publication and Poster Presentation

Congratulations to Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton authors Kathleen Emerson, LPN, CHPLN, Linda Quinlin, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, NP-C, ACHPN, Mary Murphy, MS,RN,CNS,AOCN, ACHPN, (pictured L to R) and Miami Valley Hospital clinician Patricia O’Malley PhD, RN, CNS, CCRN-Alumnus, whose article “Evaluation of a Low Light Intervention- Starlight Therapy –for Agitation, Anxiety, Restlessness, Sleep Disturbances, Dyspnea and Pain at End of Life” has been accepted for publication in the June issue of the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. The group will also be among the featured poster presenters at the February annual assembly in Phoenix, Arizona at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Nursing Association. The Annual Assembly brings together nearly 3,000 hospice and palliative care clinicians to share research, clinical best practices, and practice-related guidance to advance the specialty and improve patient care.

Research into the impact of starlight therapy was initiated at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton over five years ago when laser star projectors were first introduced to patient care. The projection of starlight onto the ceiling and walls of patient rooms proved to be a valuable therapy in easing anxiety, pain and restlessness among patients. Research also demonstrated a reduction in the need for pharmaceutical interventions for patients with a positive response to the light therapy approach.


Two Hearts As One

For staff members at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, it was heartbreaking.

Charles was alone in his room, tears streaming down his face. He longed to see his wife of 63 years. She longed to see him. But her fear of leaving their house kept her from his side. valentines day hospice of dayton

His wife never left their home. A native of Japan, she met Charles when he was serving at an Army hospital base in Japan. The two came together when she and a girlfriend attended a dance. Their meeting quickly turned to romance and a wedding ceremony at the embassy in Tokyo.

When Charles was discharged, the couple returned to the Dayton area where Charles was raised. He took a job with a local High School – a role he maintained until his retirement over twenty years later. They bought a house in 1959, a home kept neat as a pin by his wife. Now, after 63 years of marriage, the two were separated, and Charles lay dying.

The hospice staff was planning to honor Charles for his military service with an American Pride Veteran pinning ceremony to recognize and thank him for his military service. They wished his wife could be present, but she never left her home because she was overwhelmed by fear whenever she did so. As his condition began to decline, hospice staff members launched a full-court press to bring them together. Hospice House RN Leah Guthrie called and told his wife that time was running out for Charlie.

Hospice House coordinator Jamie Doughman enlisted a volunteer driver and the two traveled to the family home, offering door-to-door transport to hospice to see Charles. Reassuring and encouraging, the two were able to convince his wife to make the trip to see “Charlie” and be part of his recognition ceremony. Charles had become unresponsive.

The pinning ceremony was moving for everyone involved. Charles’ wife arrived in time for the event, and began speaking to her husband. “I love you my Charlie,” she said, stroking his cheek. For the first time in many hours, he struggled to open his eyes.

The romance that began a continent away continued to have the power to bring Charlie back to the love of his life to share some final precious memories.


Bears, Bears, Bears at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton

Oakwood High School students & Lasertoma group give stuffed teddy bears to patients at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House.No lions. No tigers. But lots and lots of bears, bears, bears.

With a mission of visiting and cheering patients, LaSertoma of Dayton Club members and students from Oakwood High School bring stuffed bears monthly to deliver to patients at the Hospice House on Wilmington Avenue in Dayton. LaSertoma member Pam Stephens can’t say how many bears have been delivered, but shares “LaSertoma started this project in the 1990s. We bring 40 bears with us 7 or 8 months out of the year.” That’s a lot of bears!

And a lot of smiles.

Delivery of the bears is a heartwarming experience for everyone involved. “We have had some patients – usually men – tell us they never had a teddy bear before, “ Pam says. “They hug on tightly when they get one.”

Oakwood students support the project and Stephens says patients really enjoy the interaction with students. “They are wonderful with the patients,” Stephens observes. “Many of them have had grandparents at hospice, so they have a special sense of the value in visiting and connecting.”

Each bear is presented along with a poem written by long-time LaSertoma member and hospice volunteer Helen Fornes:

To patients we give huggie bears

To help your day be brighter,

This warm and oh so loving petOakwood High School students & Lasertoma group give stuffed teddy bears to patients at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House.

Will make your burdens light


Oakwood High School students & Lasertoma group give stuffed teddy bears to patients at Ohio's Hospice of Dayton Hospice House.Bears and Hugs bring joy to all

A loving touch to share

Hug-A-Bear Day at the Hospice of Dayton

Is our way to show we care,

LaSertoma receives some financial support from the students at St. Luke Elementary School in Beavercreek, who save lunch money to assist in the purchase of bears. Additional donations are accepted to help support the bear gift program. Please contact Pam Stephens by email at


African American Congressional Medal Winner Among Those Honored at American Pride Memorial

During Black History Month, we highlight John Lee “Jack” Cooper, who was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. We honor him at our American Pride Memorial.Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton has the privilege to serve Veterans every day. Our American Pride program is designed to assure that the unique needs of Veterans are addressed and our American Pride Memorial celebrates those who have sacrificed to assure American freedom.

During Black History Month, we highlight John Lee “Jack” Cooper, who was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Cooper was one of an estimated 20,000 black Americans who enlisted in the Marine Corps between 1942 and 1949. The enlistees were the first to integrate the U.S. Armed Forces. Sent to Montford Point, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for training, Cooper and his fellow black troops were segregated and trained separately from white soldiers. That changed when troops served side-by side in the war theaters of World War II. Cooper served in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1945. Upon his return to the states, he and his wife Gladys settled in Dayton, where he worked for 36 years and retired from Delphi division of General Motors.

Congress designated the Montford Point Marines as Congressional Gold Medal honorees in 2012, but were unable to present Cooper’s medal to him when they were unable to locate him. A family member rectified the failure, making sure that Cooper received the honor in 2013 while he was a patient with Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. U.S. Representative Michael Turner and Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell were among those present to honor the 91-year old Cooper when the medal was presented.

We are proud to include “Jack” Cooper among those Veterans recognized at our American Pride Memorial. We invite anyone in the greater Dayton area with information about a Veteran who should be recognized for their service to submit information and be included in our Memorial listings.

We celebrate the service and courage of “Jack” Cooper, honoring the memory of a man who helped make history and change history as an early pioneer of civil rights.


Hospice Staffers Recognized for Blood Donations

Melisha holding a Leading the Way plaque recognizing Ohio's Hospice of Dayton as a leader in blood donations.

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton staff members are not only committed to the patients and families they serve, but are equally committed to the community they serve.

Twice a year staff members roll up their sleeves to take part in blood drives with the Community Blood Center. Blood is life essential, carrying oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, and moving carbon dioxide and other waste products to the lungs, kidneys and liver for disposal. Blood fights infections and helps heal wounds. 4.5 million Americans receive blood each year, many as the result of life-saving surgery or injury. Through their donations, volunteer blood donors save those lives.

Community Blood Center recently recognized Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton with a Leading the Way plaque in appreciation of the donation drives, which are strategically timed. January and summer months are difficult months to get donors to participate.  When the blood supply was low in 2016, the organization was asked to add a second blood drive. Staff donors have met or exceeded the target donation goal every time.

Pictured left, Human Resources Specialist Melisha Marshall, organizer of the blood donation drives at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, holding the recent award presented by Community Blood Center.


Veteran Advocate Available to Assist at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton

The Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton American Pride program now offers expert assistance for those seeking information about Veteran’s benefits.

Jesse Johnson, A Veteran Service Officer with the Montgomery County Veteran’s Service Commission, is available at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton from 8:40 am to 4:30 pm Wednesdays, weekly, to answer questions and advise on Veteran’s benefits questions. The Air Force Veteran is available to support patients, family members and staff members. He is also helping hospice social workers with their questions, enabling them to better serve patients and families. Johnson admits the benefits and processes are not always easy to navigate.

“Every county in Ohio has a Veteran Service Officer who can help people access all the benefits for which they are eligible,” he explains. “We are trained to keep up with all the changes and our assistance is available at no cost.” The most common questions he receives have to do with spousal benefits, burial allowance and aid and attendance benefits – compensation in addition to VA pension payments. He points out that every Veteran who served for 90 days or more during wartime – regardless of where they served – may be eligible for a pension.

Johnson has served in his Veteran Service Officer role since 2006, and says that changes are frequent and can be confusing. For our American Pride Veterans, his services are an extra measure of protection to assure they receive all the support they deserve.

In addition to his Wednesdays at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, Johnson is also available at the Montgomery County Veteran Service Commission offices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 to 4:30 pm.


Love Story Garden Created to Serve as Living Memorial

By Miriam Wolfe, Horticultural Therapist

I was given a wonderful opportunity by our President and CEO to introduce horticultural therapy at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. I was excited about the opportunity, but well aware of the barriers I faced. The average stay for our patients is only a matter of days, and many patients are not able to participate in activities. It finally came to me to create opportunities for patients and their families to enjoy horticultural therapy as a way to extend their connection beyond their hospice stay.

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton is fortunate to have a solarium for our patients and families to enjoy year around. Our unique octagon shaped solarium is filled with plants and is designed to comfortably accommodate wheelchairs, patient beds and families. There is a sitting bench which houses our water supply and a planting table. On the table there is a small grow light which is filled with plant cuttings, soil, pots and instructions for planting so families can take a plant home in memory of their loved one. We call this a Love Story Garden. Effortless plants such as Jade, Wandering Jew and Cuban Oregano are just some of the plant choices provided. However, we try to accommodate the wishes of patients and families for any plant they might request.

When the project started we began with a donation of 2000 black plastic 3” pots. Although this donation was much appreciated, we wanted to come up with something that would serve as a meaningful and attractive keepsake. I brought a hand full of pots home and painted them with acrylic paints. Patients and families loved them. They were a huge hit. The only problem was they were flying out the door faster than we could get them painted. Thank goodness for our volunteer department. Now many of our volunteer groups choose to paint pots as their project. One teen that had lost her grandmother decided to celebrate her 16th birthday party by involving her friends and volunteering to paint pots in honor of her grandmother. The volunteers are greatly comforted knowing those traveling the journey of loss will benefit from the gifts they created.

The plastic pots have been replaced with peat pots for the planting. Approximately 5000 pots have been planted in just under three years. Most family members take their pots home but some mornings I arrive to find potted plants placed all around the solarium. I hope the plantings helped them through their time of loss. There is also a journal in the solarium for people to write in. Families thank our organization with heartfelt words, and leave moving memorials to their loved ones. Our solarium is so full of life and beauty. It is a constant reminder of the beauty and cyclical nature of life.

Nature a Key in Compassionate Our Hospice Care

Hospice of Dayton provides many opportunities for patients and their families to connect with nature. Each patient room has floor to ceiling windows with beautiful gardens, ponds and bird feeders to view. A variety of wildlife visit our gardens such as squirrels, chipmunks and ducks. Deer will sometimes venture close enough to feast on our Hosta and fruit from the trees. I believe seeing a deer or chipmunk outside your window to help celebrate your life must be an awesome feeling. I will continue to plant more Hosta as necessary so we can continue to welcome all visitors to enjoy our campus.

Horticultural therapy is part of our holistic approach to hospice care. It’s important to me that we encourage people to connect with nature because it can be that source of inspiration, hope and healing that people need the most.


Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton Holds Special Place in the Heart of this High School Student

Madison Dox paints pottery in volunteer workroom on her 18th birthday.Madison Dox just celebrated her 18th birthday with the same friends and in the same location as the past three years. What’s unusual about that is the location is Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. Madison brings her friends together on her birthday every year to share in a project of love and remembrance.

Madison parents divorced when she was young and her grandfather became the male role model in her life. The two were very close. Madison watched her grandfather’s struggle with cancer over four and half years She was present with him when he passed away at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. It was the first major loss of her life.

That was during her freshman year in high school. On every birthday since, Madison brings her friends together to celebrate her birthday and remember her grandfather by creating gifts and crafts for the patients and families served by Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. Madison also volunteers in other hospice roles and highlighted her hospice experience in her college application essay, explaining how her hospice experience touched her life.

“The goal of the Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton is to help heal those mourning during and after tough times,” she wrote. “Their assistance guides families from the darkness of grief towards the light of closure and peace. The serene atmosphere at Hospice eased my insecurities and calmed my fears of the uncertainty of my grandfather’s condition; but, most significantly, the compassionate staff reassured me that I would overcome the heartache of the indescribable loss, while enlightening me to ways I could spread my grandfather’s legacy to others.”

Madison came back to the Hospice House and brought her friends three months later with a goal of comforting others in need. “I am a committed volunteer whose sole purpose Is to provide comfort and peace to those grieving as I so gratefully received during my darkest times.” Whether decorating seedling pots for families, holiday decorations or handing out Teddy Bears to patients, Madison seeks “to bright light to others.” Her generosity is a living tribute to her grandfather’s memory, and a deeply moving and appreciated gift to others traveling the pathway of loss.

Friend joining Madison Dox on her 18th Birthday painting pottery in honor of Madison's grandfather.

Friend joining Madison Dox on her 18th Birthday painting pottery in honor of Madison's grandfather.

Friend joining Madison Dox on her 18th Birthday painting pottery in honor of Madison's grandfather.



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Help Our Mission – Become a Volunteer in 2017!

Volunteer helps with office tasks.

Help us enhance the quality of life of patients and families – #volunteer with us! The first volunteer orientation of the year is January 21.

At orientation, you will learn:

  • History and goals of end-of-life care
  • Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton history
  • Role of Volunteers and opportunities
  • Confidentiality, infection control, and safety
  • Boundaries
  • Effective listening
  • Loss and grief

Volunteer orientation dates throughout the year are:

January 21

February 13

March 1 & 25

April 12

May 10

June 7 & 17

July 12

August 19

September 18

October 11 & 14

November 8

December 6

All sessions are from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm.

If you are interested, please complete the volunteer application and learn more here.

Please call 937.256.9507, ext. 3314 for more information.