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Hospice celebrates 25 years of service

Dave Karsnia, one of the first to be involved with hospice in this area, speaks during the Hospice of the Red River Valley 25 years of service celebration.

Though hospice is a relative newcomer to the healthcare industry, it has been a part of the Detroit Lakes community for a quarter of a century now -- and on Tuesday, a large group of supporters gathered at the local offices of Hospice of the Red River Valley (HRRV) to celebrate its success.

As HRRV Executive Director Susan Fuglie put it, the hospice movement "was created as a rebellion" -- rebellion against the often cold, clinical environment of end-of-life care, by people who were "caring enough to say we have to find a better way."

In Detroit Lakes, the first community task force meeting to discuss hospice care in the lakes area took place in 1983. A year later, those discussions led to the creation of Lakes Area Hospice. Initially under the auspices of Multi-County Nursing Service, the organization became a fully self-sustaining care program in 1989.

Four years later, in 1993, Lakes Area Hospice merged with Hospice of the Red River Valley. Over the years, the local hospice has had several headquarters, from the Lincoln Professional Center, to a small home adjacent to St. Mary's Hospital, to a house across from Dynamic Homes on Main Street.

In 2007, the Detroit Lakes office of HRRV finally found a permanent home at 1102 West River Road, and by Nov. 1 of that year, the move had become official.

Hospice advisory board member David Karsnia said that through the years, "hospice has really, really blossomed," and can offer things today that "weren't even thought of" when Lakes Area Hospice was first formed -- and today, the organization serves not only those who are dying, but their families as well.

"I'm proud to say I've been a part of this movement since it began," Karsnia said.

Another hospice board member, LaVerne Moltzan, shared her personal experience with hospice, through the death of her mother.

"I lost my mother, but was given an invaluable gift," she said.

"When the (hospice) nurses started coming 24 hours a day -- the first nurse came at midnight," Moltzan said. Not knowing this nurse "from Adam," she said, "I sat up with her that night ... by the next morning, I knew everything would be OK."

Hospice allowed her mother "to die with dignity and grace, the same way she lived."

But the organization also gave Moltzan a gift -- the ability to overcome her fear of dying. She didn't fear death itself, Moltzan added, but "what it would take to get there."

But the tender care and support provided to her mother showed her that "as long as there is hospice, no one will have to walk the dark road (toward death) alone.

"I ask you to support hospice so their light will continue to burn," she added.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454