MONTPELIER — Touching tributes are captured in a photo exhibition about Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice at National Life in the Capital City this month.
November is nationally recognized as Hospice and Palliative Care Month to honor medical staff and caregivers who care for both the living and those dealing with end-of-life issues.
Titled “Being There,” the exhibition at National Life features a two-year project by CVHHH and photographer Corey Hendrickson, who captured images of 14 staff and family members of patients supported by CVHHH’s palliative care and hospice team and other services.
The exhibition included portraits of CVHHH staff and clients finding ways to relax and replenish after the stresses of the job or the loss of a loved one. Participants in the exhibition also are featured in a video about the project.
Hendrickson is a commercial and editorial photographer in East Middlebury who decided to work on the project after hospice cared for his grandmother, Evelyn Umryz, who died at age 95 in Old Lyme, Connecticut, in February 2012.
“It allowed me to be there with her and not have to think so much about some of the logistical stuff (concerning her care),” Hendrickson said. “I had a lot going on and to be able to just go take a shower and know that someone was going to be with her was transformative. You get scared to leave, but in reality, you need to take some breaks.”
Subjects include Gordie Eurich, of Montpelier, whose wife, Casey, died at age 52 in 2015. The couple worked in the retail ski industry for decades and getting back to the slopes with their daughter, Ellen, was a cathartic way for them to heal.
Eurich was photographed at Mad River Glen in Fayston, where he and his daughter were returning to commemorate Casey.
“My first date with Casey was up here skiing,” Eurich said. “The last run I took with her skiing was also up here.”
Mary Larson is a registered nurse, pictured with horses at her Moretown home.
“I find being with the horses to be very grounding and centering,” Larson said.
Larry Detweiler, hospice interfaith chaplain, is shown on a swing at his Huntington home.
“I like the motion of the swing and the movement and the ability to calm my thoughts and emotions and to take in the beauty of nature around me,” Detweiler said.
Bridget Coburn, a registered nurse and former member of the hospice and palliative care team, is seen with her son among cows at Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier.
“It’s such a joy to come up here and look at the cows and help my son out, just connecting with the animals,” Coburn said. “I think animals are a great form of therapy and it’s something I truly enjoy.”
And for some at CVHHH, it’s also about sharing their experiences of personal loss and being able to relate to their patients.
Bonnie Breer, of Cabot, has been a registered nurse with the hospice and palliative care team for nearly 12 years. In the exhibition, Breer is photographed at Pho Capital restaurant in Montpelier, where she has lunch once a month with one of her living sons, Jeremiah, in remembrance of one son, Joshua, who was killed a car accident five years ago.
Breer said she received a nice compliment from a patient who contacted her this week.
“I got paged last night by a patient and I instructed her on what to do and I said, ‘Call me back if it doesn’t work,’” Breer said. “She never called me back, but I called this morning to do a follow up, and she said, ‘You’re the angel in the night,’ because everything worked well and everything was good.:
Sandy Rousse said she joined the nonprofit as a board member after taking care of her parents through the end of life and rose through the ranks over the years to become CEO of CVHHH.
Rousse said CVHHH has an annual budget of about $13 million, primarily funded through Medicaid and Medicare and fundraisers such as its recent annual Seasons of Life fashion show, which raised more than $60,000 last month. However, CVHHH still provided services worth $590,000 in 2018 that were not reimbursed, creating fiscal challenges for the nonprofit.
Rousse also paid tribute to grant funding from National Life and thanked the company for staging the exhibition.
“The exhibit is a good fit for National Life Group which has had a relationship with CVHHH for many years,” said Beth Rusnock, president of National Life Group Foundation. “We see our role as helping families manage major life events with life assurance and annuities. CVHHH also helps families during challenging times by providing hospice care and other services.”
In 2018, CVHHH made nearly 86,000 home visits and provided 1.303 flu shots and 2,163 foot-care treatments. In the same year, CVHHH employed 208 staff and also relied on the services of 115 volunteers.
To view the “Being There” video, visit www.vimeo.com/368625596.