Imagine the challenges of dealing with a loved one’s end-of-life care with the added complications of language barriers and fears your traditions or heritage will not be honored? For many hospice and palliative care patients, this is the reality. The 2017 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report indicates minority patients were less likely to receive end-of-life care consistent with their wishes and had less knowledge about end-of-life care and advance directives.
Nathan Adelson Hospice employee Maritza was able to help a family come to terms with their family member’s need for hospice care. She was able to explain the gravity of the situation to the family in their native Spanish and how hospice could help. After the patient passed, Maritza was able to set up bereavement counseling in Spanish for his family members to begin the healing process.
The team at Nathan Adelson Hospice seeks to break down the barriers between different cultures needing information about and access to hospice and palliative care in our community. One way we do this each year is through our educational Multicultural Conference & Luncheon.
Nathan Adelson Hospice took the initiative to create this event fifteen years ago as a way to bring the community together for a productive conversation on the cultural differences that affect end-of-life care.
"The Same Boat"
“We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.” The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s words eloquently sum up the notion of the same end-of-life issues all people face. We are all in the same boat when it comes to mortality but it is important to be mindful of the fact that different cultures and different religions handle death and dying in their own ways.
“We think it’s incumbent upon us to provide as much information and education regarding end-of-life issues to our community,” explained Jeanne Jones, Nathan Adelson Hospice board member and President and CEO of ALPHA Services. The goal of this informative luncheon is to bring education, awareness and access to resources regarding end-of-life issues which affect every single one of us.”
This year’s event takes place Wednesday, February 27 at Palace Station. The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a panel discussion featuring public health educator Alisa Howard, Nathan Adelson Hospice social worker Cheryl Johnston, sales and marketing consultant Bessy Lee, Veteran’s Administration chaplain Howard Nelson and University Medical Center medical interpreter Alvaro Vegara-Mery.
Following the morning symposium, Nathan Adelson Hospice’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Clevis Parker Sr., will deliver a keynote address on this year’s theme of Embracing the Journey of Care across a multicultural spectrum.
Board member Jeanne Jones has been actively trying to increase the community’s awareness of hospice care for decades. Jones volunteered at the first Butterfly Ball fundraiser back when Nathan Adelson Hospice opened in 1978. Little did she know that her volunteer roots were planting seeds for a continued commitment to educating the community on end-of-life care. Fourteen years later, she was asked to become a member of the board for Nathan Adelson Hospice.
A Diverse Community
Cassandra Cotton, Community Outreach Manager for Nathan Adelson Hospice, has been with the organization for 26 years. She worked with Jones to create the Multicultural Luncheon a decade and a half ago.
Cotton explained, “Las Vegas is a very diverse community so greater education on end-of-life issues for different cultures is necessary. Nobody else in the community was doing this so we decided to step up and prove why we’re so committed to being the top hospice educator and informational resource in the area.”
The team at Nathan Adelson Hospice realized so many different groups such as the Jewish community, the Hispanic community and African American community face specific cultural concerns regarding end-of-life care. Some religions such as Judaism and Buddhism have very particular traditions regarding death and dying. The purpose of this luncheon is to disseminate information regarding hospice care for the entire community and make people aware that Nathan Adelson Hospice has staff trained to accommodate various cultural differences.
The Multicultural Luncheon doesn’t just touch on different ethnicities and religions; it also addresses LGBTQ and veterans’ issues, plus hospice care for children. Cotton noted, “For this important community discussion, we bring in people from all facets of life to discuss the end of life including pastors, rabbis, elected officials and medical professionals.”
The luncheon itself is designed to highlight diversity as well. Cotton noted how much attendees have loved the variety of culturally diverse food served each year. The menu typically includes everything from soul food specialties to Italian delicacies and is accompanied by entertainment.
This year’s entertainer will be no stranger to Vegas Golden Knights hockey fans. Carnell Johnson, aka Golden Pipes, will perform at the luncheon. The Venetian gondolier with an operatic range gained fame from his impressive renditions of the national anthem performed at the Vegas Golden Knights hockey games.
Each year, Nathan Adelson Hospice honors a special community partner who assists the hospice in our vision to make sure no one ends the journey of life alone, afraid or in pain – no matter their cultural heritage. This year’s recipient of the Diversity in Action Award is the Valley Health System. Valley Health System has made a difference in the community by demonstrating a commitment to the spirit of diversity and increasing awareness of end-of-life care by improving access for underserved populations.
Jones explained, “It’s key to have a cultural conversation on hospice and palliative care so we can ‘Embrace the Journey’ while breaking down the barriers for everyone.”