Sunday, February 17, 2013

At VA, They’re Making Sure No Veteran Dies Alone

At VA, They’re Making Sure No Veteran Dies Alone
By Diane Taylor
Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hartford — Given a choice, Patti Crimmin-Greenan would prefer to stay behind the scenes. The 56-year-old resident of White River Junction who enrolled in nursing school when she was 29 is not entirely comfortable being interviewed by reporters or posing for photographers. But as the palliative care coordinator at the Veterans Affairs hospital in White River Junction, Crimmin-Greenan is at the center of a new hospice volunteer program that aims to provide an around-the-clock human presence for any veteran who comes to the VA at the end of his life to use one of two hospice suites at the hospital. And for that, Crimmin-Greenan said, she is willing to “come outside the box.”

Standing alongside Crimmin-Greenan in her efforts to provide human companionship to dying veterans is Patricia West, of New London. At 53, West is the executive director of the Veterans Research and Education Association of New England, a nonprofit organization that administers non-VA funding to support research and education in veterans hospitals. Ninety-five percent of the time, West said, she oversees grants that fund research for clinical trials in areas such as oncology or cardiology or testing new drugs.

“But the fun part, the 5 percent, is education,” West said. “That’s one of the things I’ve really wanted to try to build up.”

The result of this partnership is a volunteer program called No Veteran Dies Alone. A first group of 10 hospice volunteers will begin training for the job on Feb. 21, under the guidance of Crimmin-Greenan and Kristin Barnum, of Bayada Home Health Care in Norwich.

Crimmin-Greenan and West recently spoke with the Valley News about No Veteran Dies Alone.
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