Palliative and hospice care staff lift Veterans’ spirits with “Silver Lining Stories”


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Everyone can use a little good news. VA employees are no exception. One program office within VHA recently created an opportunity for employees and staff members to share uplifting stories with one another.

Employees within Palliative and Hospice Care at VHA hosted a “Silver Lining Stories” discussion during their national call in May. Staff members from VA medical centers and facilities across the country lifted each other’s spirits with stories about all the good that is happening for Veterans at their facilities as well as in their own lives.

Employees within Palliative and Hospice Care at VHA recently hosted a “Silver Lining Stories” discussion with stories about all the good that is happening for Veterans at their facilities and in their own lives.

Mary Jo Hughes is the hospice and palliative care program manager at the Grand Junction, Colorado, medical center. She and her team have been using the VA Video Connect (VVC) program to help patients stay in touch with their loved ones. One patient undergoing treatment for cancer was able to speak with their spouse and children by way of VVC.

Family sang for the patient

“It was the most moving experience. I was in tears, along with our chaplain, when the family sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’ to the patient. There is nothing like the power of seeing your family members and feeling nurtured and cared for by them.”

Carisa Sullivan is a hospice nurse practitioner within the Amarillo VA Health Care System Community Living Center (CLC) in Texas. She recently was “part of one of the most memorable things I’ve ever experienced as a hospice nurse practitioner.” Her colleagues organized a drive-by parade for Veterans at that facility.

180 cars in parade for Veterans

“There were supposed to be 55 cars. Somehow it got out into the community and we had 180 vehicles come by. It was just a phenomenal experience for these Veterans to enjoy safely.” Sullivan encouraged other CLCs to explore if something similar could be arranged at their facilities.

Focus on social connectedness

These stories focused on people’s sense of social connectedness, an important social determinant of health (SDOH). SDOH are conditions in the environment in which Veterans live, learn, work, play, worship and age.

SDOH are the theme of the VHA Office of Community Engagement (OCE) 2020 Community Partnership Challenge. OCE supports many partnerships throughout VHA and VA that bring Veterans greater access to SDOH.

“VHA and VA colleagues are collaborating to help Veterans, and each other, by sharing good news,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “It’s critical that Veterans and staff members uplift positive events and find social connection right now, through initiatives such as this one.”

Here’s more information on OCE’s partnership work.


Dr. Jamie D. Davis is a health systems specialist with the VHA Office of Community Engagement.

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VAntagePoint Contributor

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