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Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award 1996

Association of Kansas Hospices

1996 Winner
Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award

In 1990, there were forty hospices in Kansas but only five were Medicare certified. Large areas of Kansas had no hospice services available. Few Kansans could access hospice services as part of their Medicare benefits because of the limited geographic coverage of Medicare certified programs. Many Kansas hospices relied solely on volunteers to deliver services and on charitable giving to fund services. Hospice leaders of Kansas, however, had the goal of quality hospice service available for every Kansan. The leaders of the Association of Kansas Hospices began work to create regional, Medicare-certified, programs which could cover unserved areas and produce revenues to support quality hospice services delivered by paid staff and active volunteers. The underlying vision was an experience of dying well for every Kansan and family member.

UMHMF's earliest grant to AKH underwrote AKH's efforts to establish a headquarters for its first paid staff, implement program services for local hospices and support development of quality and other service guidelines for hospice services. AKH leaders worked with developing programs throughout Kansas to coordinate service areas. Following the vision and leadership of AKH, UMHMF continued support for AKH--eventually totaling $444,500--and provided more than $646,000 to expanding local hospice programs. By January 1, 1996, there were 31 Medicare certified hospices in Kansas with virtually the whole state served. The Association successfully worked for enactment of a hospice licensure law and developed a core curriculum to prepare and teach hospice leaders about comprehensive hospice care. AKH developed specialized training centers for hospice professionals, intensive courses for volunteer coordinators, nurses, social workers and finance personnel. Both the core curriculum and training centers are frequently attended by out-of-state hospice personnel.

Health care changes are producing new challenges for AKH--fewer independent hospice programs, not-for-profit as well as for-profit Kansas hospices, changes in Medicare financing and growth in managed care. AKH is exploring new organizational arrangements to preserve and improve services to its member hospices.

AKH provided UMHMF with a unique philanthropic opportunity in 1989; AKH and its Executive Director, Donna Bales, have used UMHMF's financial investment to produce enduring benefits.

AKH advocated, and its members provided, experiences of dying well before cost considerations and extreme solutions moved that issue to its current limelight. AKH endorsed quality and accountability before they were buzzwords. When many said there was no way for rural Kansans to have quality hospice care, AKH encouraged and supported regional approaches to make hospice care available to all Kansans. Kansas hospice leaders through AKH demonstrated that vision and moral commitment of leaders are the real components needed for improved human service. Local hospice leaders steadfastly worked through AKH to see that Kansans far from their own service areas could access quality care.

These last seven years have positioned Kansas as a leader in hospice work nationally. They have prepared AKH and Kansas hospice programs to respond to the future challenges of the changing health care field and continue to deliver caring compassion for the dying and grieving with quality. This remarkable record makes AKH a most deserving recipient of the Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award.

AKH representatives: Donna Bales, AKH Executive Director, Wichita; Sandra Kuhlman, AKH President and Executive Director, Hospice Services, Inc., Phillipsburg; John Carney, President, Hospice Inc., Wichita; and Carolyn Carter, Executive Director, Hospice of Reno County, Hutchinson.

Awarded March 12, 1997

Learn more about the Janet Sevier Gilbreath award