Health Articles

Volunteers are at the heart of hospice

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With today's busy lifestyle, time is one of the most precious resources in our lives and hospice volunteers give their time freely. They may never realize the profound difference they make in a person's life. A listening ear, a kind touch, a gentle presence can mean so much to a hospice patient and their family. Hospice volunteers generously give their gift of time to make these connections, to make a difference in the lives of their patients and families; and what they often discover is what their patients give back to them. Hospice volunteering becomes one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Hospice volunteers discover how volunteering challenges them to grow and to live — not merely exist. Hospice volunteers learn not to take life for granted, to live each day to the fullest.

Senator Edward Kennedy said these words about hospice, "The hospice movement is a great movement, not because it was legislated by Congress, or mandated by the Federal Government, but because it evolved out of the hearts of people who care." Hospice care was started by volunteers. Hospice Volunteers are vital members of the hospice team. A fundamental goal of the hospice philosophy is to preserve the tie between the patient and community so that patient and family are not further isolated during the last phases of an illness. Thus, hospice volunteers are not merely a desirable addition to the professional hospice staff; they are a crucial part of the hospice concept. Through the volunteer's visits, the patient and family remain in contact with the world beyond their own home and beyond hospice. Life can become normal again for a short time. It is the hospice volunteer that helps to maintain or reestablish the patient's sense of self-worth and gives family members increased freedom to live a more normal daily existence.

On average, hospice patients have usually been in and out of hospitals for tests, scans, or possible surgeries for years prior to their hospice admission. Both the patient and their loved ones have been through moments of fear, anxiety, and despair amidst glimmers of hope. They are tired and need support: emotional, social, psychological and spiritual support. They need someone to hold their hand, to share their pain, to listen to them, someone who can be there and in a sense, meet them where they are in life's final journey. Hospice volunteers provide this and give the patient and family someone they can count on for those small but important daily needs. It is the hospice volunteer's caring that brings life and breath to hospice.

Pastor David Weber of St. Peter & Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton will receive Portage Health Hospice's Volunteer of the Year Award Tuesday at their annual dinner honoring and celebrating hospice volunteers for their commitment of time and most importantly, the difference they make in the lives of hospice patients.

To learn more about hospice or to become a volunteer, contact (906) 483-1160.

Get your Plate in Shape during Nutrition Month

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It’s time to get your Plate in Shape! 

That’s the message from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is celebrating National Nutrition Month this March.

Here are six simple tips that everyone could learn from:
1) Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Eat a variety of vegetables, especially those that are dark-green, red, and orange, plus beans and peas. Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables. For canned vegetables, look for those without added salt. For canned fruits, look for those in water or 100% juice.

2) Make at least half of your grains, whole grains
Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.

3) Opt for fat-free or low-fat milk
Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories.

4) Vary your protein choices
Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Twice per week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

5) Cut back on sodium and empty calories
Watch for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often. 
Make major sources of saturated fats, such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not everyday foods. Select lean cuts of meat and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.

6) Enjoy your food, but eat less
Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food. When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options and opt for dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

For more information on healthy eating visit or


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