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Martinsburg VA Medical Center


Hospice Palliative Care: Then and Now

June 7, 2013

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – The Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center Hospice and Palliative Care Teams are growing rapidly, which is evident in the opening of the newly renovated unit in the Community Living Center. 

The Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center spent $2.9 million to renovate the Community Living Center that now holds 35 beds, with 16 of those designated for Hospice and Palliative Care patients.  This comes following the 2008 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) directive requiring the establishment of a Palliative Care Consult Team at every VA medical center. The VHA recognized the substantial need for hospice and palliative care that is projected to increase in the next several years.

The private rooms feature flat-screen televisions and a special memory box on the outside of the doors.  This memory box is a miniature display case where Veterans and their families can place special memorabilia.

Each wing of the Community Living Center has a new family room complete with fireplace and full kitchen. The kitchen allows the families to prepare some of their loved one’s favorite meals, and the cozy furniture and fireplace help the families have a place to go where they can be together. The most amazing thing about the new unit is how bright and open it is. There is ornate woodwork along the walls, a large stone fireplace and tall windows that let in the sunshine.

Melvin Markley, 98, and Leroy Spielman, 87, are two Hospice and Palliative Care patients who looked forward to moving into the new unit. Markley and Spielman are both U.S. Army Veterans who served during World War II. Markley is from Jerome, Va., and joined the Army right after high school. He was in the Ordinance Division and deployed to Europe as a translator for a German prisoner of war camp.

Markley’s roommate is Leroy Spielman, 87, from Bedford County, Pa. Spielman joined the Army as a machinist and was wounded in Battle of the Bulge. Spielman is warm-hearted and likes to talk with family visitors about his experiences. One of the things he loves about the new unit is “the new flat-screen TVs, because I love to watch sports!”
Markley and Spielman both agreed that the care and attention they receive from the Hospice and Palliative Care Team is “comfortable and special.” They have nothing but great things to say about the doctors, nurses and volunteers.

Spielman and Markley’s room has tokens of their Army days, as well as cards and gifts from loved ones. These two Veterans are a true inspiration, as people, and as Veterans who are being well cared for by the Martinsburg VA Medical Center Hospice and Palliative Care Team.

In June of 2012, the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center was one of the VA Medical Centers to receive a $30,000 grant for their program. Forty five sites applied and only 23 received the award. This was a great honor for the Hospice and Palliative Care team.  They used the grant money to fund books for the family room, service flags for the Final Salute, informational pamphlets, training on grieving for non-clinical staff and materials to support the mission of making Veterans feel at home.

The Hospice and Palliative Care Team works very hard to take care of Veterans, and for many of them, the care is personal. The opening of the new unit is exciting for the team primarily because it provides more room to work with Veterans, as well as give them a sense of home and peace while they are in our care. 

The Martinsburg VA Medical Center mission is to honor America’s Veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being. Located in West Virginia, the medical center offers a comprehensive range of services, including internal medicine, ambulatory surgery, audiology and speech pathology, dental, nursing home, nutrition, podiatry, prosthetics, women’s health, mental health, and rehabilitation medicine. With a service area of nearly 130,000 Veterans in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the medical center operates four VA-staffed Outpatient Clinics in Cumberland, Hagerstown, Fort Detrick, Md., and Stephens City, Va. and three contract clinics in Franklin and Petersburg, W.Va. and Harrisonburg, Va.