Page 49 - Healthcare News SepOct 2021
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compassionate approach.
“It’s huge for the patient to be reassured
they’ve done all they can do to fight their illness,” Groden said. “It’s also just as important for family members because they will remember this for the rest of their lives.”
While modern medicine can extend people’s lives, many still need hospice in their later years. Ross also pointed out that hospice is not just for the elderly. “We have a lot of illnesses that can affect relatively younger people, like Lou Gehrig’s disease, early-onset dementia, and, of course, cancer, which affects people at all ages.”
No matter the age, she noted, the goal of Hospice Life Care remains the same. “Our main purpose is to give patients comfort through the end of life, to make them as comfortable as possible, and treat their symptoms so they don’t suffer.”
After 50 years at Holyoke Medical Center, 30 of which were at Hospice Life Care, Ross has certainly seen many changes in healthcare.
She listed electronic medical records and advancements in medication as two of the most significant.
While many physicians choose to retire rather than confront new technology, she took time to learn electronic medical records and embraced the advances in both technology and medicine. Her colleagues say she never misses a beat, one
of the reasons she’s an effective leader and healthcare provider.
At the urging of her husband, Ross had planned to retire by 2015. But when he
became ill in 2014 and passed away quickly, she decided to continue her work.
“I thought if I retired, I would only sit around the house and mourn, so a better choice was to keep working,” she said, adding that, with each life she impacts, she embraces that decision.
A True Leader
Martin observed that Holyoke VNA Hospice Life Care admits approximately 275 patients to hospice each year.
“When you multiply that number times 30 years, it gives you an idea of just how many lives Dr. Ross has touched,” she said, adding that her lasting impact is measured not in numbers, but in words, especially those used by family members of patients to describe the compassionate care they received.
Those words convey many things, including just how much of a pioneer she has been throughout her career, and how she has convinced so many that dying really is a part of living.
Mostly, though, they convey that she is a true Healthcare Hero. n
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This month, Nesteby is leaving Cooley Dickinson to join Transhealth Northampton, a clinic that provides primary care for children and adults. Her role will be similar to her current one in providing primary care and hormone management for her patients. In her new position, she will continue to educate clinicians and will also focus on educating the general public about working with the LGBTQ community.
“I’m an advocate of asking people how they want to be addressed and what pronouns they use,” she said. adding that people often get nervous they might offend if they ask, but the conversation has to start somewhere. “If you are respectful and polite, people will usually respond in kind. They only get upset when someone is rude or asking for information that is gratuitous or not needed.”
In general, Nesteby would like to see a more welcoming and affirming atmosphere in medicine.
“Ideally, I’d like all providers to have some degree of knowledge about how to work with LGBTQ patients because within that there is more opportunity for people to specialize in that care.”
Harness credited Nesteby with making positive changes in the system while always providing excellent care to the person in front of her. “Aleah has improved her patients’ sense of well- being by showing them their medical provider cares about, understands, and welcomes them,” he said.
In her eyes, though, showing compassion is similar some ways to the old adage about a rising tide lifting all boats.
“If we are more open and understanding to folks in one group,” she said, “we tend to be more open and understanding to everyone — and that helps all of us.” n
Care for All
Pioneer Valley
Compassionate Care for All
An Independent Non-Profit Hospice Program
Providing expert end-of-life care to address patients physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs as well as the needs of their loved ones.
To learn more about us and our upcoming fundraisers, grief groups, and to join our mailing list, visit
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A unique hospice model in the
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  OCTOBER 2021 A31 ones.
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