Hundreds attend hospice, palliative care conference

MARQUETTE – The inaugural Upper Great Lakes Palliative Care and Hospice Conference was a resounding success, according to the event’s organizers.

Hosted in the Great Lakes Rooms in the University Center at Northern Michigan University, the event was attended by more than 250 people, organizers said. It focused on communication between health care workers and their patients. Carol Carr, CEO of Lake Superior Hospice, which helped organize the event, said often with so many people involved in hospice or palliative care – family, friends, nurses, doctors, even neighbors – it’s easy for the lines of communication to become jumbled.

“It’s like two ships passing in the night,” Carr said.

The event featured three keynote speakers. Kay Branch is the Elder Health Program coordinator for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, focusing on health status and long-term care needs of Alaska Native elders. Having 20 years of experience working with Alaska Native elders, Branch is considered a national expert in tribal long-term health services.

Patricia Miles is the coauthor of many published articles and has been a leader in developing a consistent and reproducible model for strength-based, needs-driven facilitator of child and family teams.

Gary Wegiarz, formerly of Calumet, currently lives in Auke Bay, Ala., where he works as a therapist for his own private practice. Wegiarz has a wide variety of experiences, which include work in public health, home health, hospice, hospitals and with mental health and substance abuse providers.

Carr said the event was a success, and was looking forward to an even bigger turnout next year.

“I’m elated,” she said. “It surpassed even our expectations. I’m thrilled.”

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500.