Angels of the Morning

Why does the Vineyard Nursing Association want to get into the hospice business, when there is already a hospice on the Island?

The answer is not completely clear yet.

The respected nonprofit nursing association, which is now also the only home care nursing association on the Island, wants to be able to offer Medicare hospice services to patients. Those services are not available through Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, which for twenty-eight years has operated under a different model. Unfettered by the constraints of insurance regulation, the Island hospice organization is entirely free and runs entirely on donations. The core of its organization includes a dedicated group of volunteers. In a letter to the editor published in today’s edition the Rev. Peter Sanborn writes movingly about what he terms the ministry of listening, and the point is well taken. Hospice volunteers are ministers of listening and angels of the morning. And they are understandably somewhat flummoxed by the announcement of the nursing association last week that it now plans to begin its own hospice care.

Offering Medicare certified hospice services may be an important benefit for patients with terminal illness. But it is troubling to see two Island nonprofits be forced to compete with each other, particularly in these difficult economic times.

And Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, and its angels, deserve the continued support of the Island going forward.

Because their services are, like the well-known advertisement says, priceless.