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Hospice of the Red River Valley serving Detroit Lakes for 25 years

The Detroit Lakes Hospice of the Red River Valley is celebrating their 25th anniversary with a lunch on Wednesday, July 18 in their parking lot, located at 1111 on Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes. Emily Driscoll / Tribune1 / 2
Hospice staff, nurses, managers, and volunteers pose for a photo at the Detroit Lakes HRRV office. Emily Driscoll / Tribune2 / 2

The Hospice of the Red River Valley merged with Lakes Area Hospice 25 years ago, and a lot has changed since then, but their mission remains the same.

"We serve patients at the end of life's journey and help them through it. Something we're not always comfortable talking about is what that looks like, but anyone that's entitled to that kind of care, we want to ensure that we're able to provide that care to everyone that deserves it," Marketing Director Deb Gemar said.

Hospice of the Red River Valley serves 365 patients per day across the region. About one fourth of those patients are from Becker, Clay, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Norman, Otter Tail, Wadena and Wilkin counties.

The care is brought to them, according to Gemar. Wherever the patient calls home, whether it's at their house, nursing home, assisted living home, or wherever, nurses and staff are happy to come and assist them.

The not-for-profit organization is always welcoming volunteers to assist patients and financial donations to help with services that they aren't reimbursed for. "Volunteering could be sitting with the patient while their primary caregiver needs some respite time, or just going and playing cards with the patient," Gemar said.

"As a not-for-profit, community-based organization, hospice of the Red River Valley offers service to anyone in need regardless of their ability to pay. We rely on donations to do so and to fill the gap in coverage of reimbursement," she said.

She mentioned they also have volunteer sewers who offer to take the hospice patient's favorite article of clothing and sew it into a teddy bear after they've passed, if the family requests it.

Volunteers can work one on one with patients, help out with events, or help out with simple office work.

In addition to new faces, Gemar said that some volunteers have been helping out for over 20 years.

To celebrate 25 years serving the community of Detroit Lakes, HRRV is having an anniversary lunch on Wednesday, July 18 from 11am to 1pm. The lunch is free-will donation, so it will be like a small scale fundraiser, according to Gemar.

The lunch will be served in the parking lot of their office at 1111 Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes.

"We just want to invite the community to come and celebrate with us," Gemar said. "The intent is to let the community know that we're still here, and we're happy to serve."

Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering.

"When physical, emotional and spiritual concerns are addressed, patients and their loved ones can spend the precious time that remains concentrating on the things that matter most to them. Hospice care lessens the financial burden and offers the chance for people to live as normally as possible with dignity. After the death of a loved one, hospice provides grief support for 13 months and can help with some of the tasks that may need to be completed after someone has passed away," Gemar said.

Also, HRRV recently added palliative care to their services, which does not require a short-term life expectancy prognosis, can be provided earlier in the disease process, can be utilized alongside curative care, and includes consultations with the palliative care registered nurse. In other words, palliative care can be given to someone who is expected to overcome their illness.