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More Than Just a Pet – Hospice Program Provides Care When Owners Can’t

by Nov 28, 2022Community0 comments

They look back at her from the wall of her San Antonio office — the faces, names, and grateful expressions of pets helped by April Medellin and her small team at Christus VNA Hospice. Each animal is a testament to yet another accomplishment of the team’s Pet Peace of Mind program, which provides patients with pet care assistance and placement.

Medellin, volunteer manager at the Texas hospice agency, recalls the work it took to get Pet Peace of Mind moving.

In just eight months, she has spear-headed the program’s revitalization at her agency, giving new purpose to what she called “a stale and often overlooked service.” This year alone, her volunteers and community supporters have helped more than 35 animals in some capacity.

For Medellin, the work is personal. Her family has a large menagerie of furry friends –including a few goats and horses. Animals have also played a role in Medellin’s professional life; She previously worked for a nonprofit in Texas that provided guide dogs to the disabled community. Now, she manages volunteer work for both the We Honor Veterans and Pet Peace of Mind programs at Christus VNA Hospice in San Antonio.

LHC Group agencies across the country partner with Pet Peace of Mind, a non-profit organization that instructs and advises hospices in providing pet care assistance. Agencies participating in the program help with fostering, veterinarian appointments and transport, pet food and other supplies, as well as placement when needed or desired.

Medellin’s team has earned recognition for their hard work. Christus VNA Hospice was recently named a runner-up for the 2022 Ingrid Thornquist Award, which recognizes the efforts of outstanding Pet Peace of Mind partners who demonstrate a high level of commitment to the program’s foundational mission.

This year their work has included helping facilitate the care and rehoming of dogs, cats, and even two horses. It’s a monumental task for some, but with connections in the community, Medellin’s team was able to go above and beyond to help patients and pets in need.

Medellin is honored by the recognition but remains humble—, knowing the program has room for growth. “We have big plans for the future, but we are not there yet,” she said.

Those plans include launching a fundraising arm to help stock up on supplies and money for use in emergencies. They hope to launch their fundraising effort in 2023. But it’s their community outreach that really fuels the work Medellin and her team do.

The Christus VNA Hospice team partners with a local no-kill shelter to provide discounted veterinary services for patients and their families. Through outreach and word of mouth, their efforts have been rewarded with monthly donations from the local community. Bags of food and litter seem to be constantly stocked and ready for when pets need them.

The work is a fun and rewarding experience. Medellin sees that reflected in the joy of volunteers who offer their time to provide excellent service for patients. Program volunteers have numerous opportunities for fun –transportation to grooming, a walk around the neighborhood, a vet checkup, or simply sharing in the love a patient has for their pet.

“If they are pet lovers, it’s pretty easy,” she said. “And the little things can help volunteer numbers.”

Since taking over the program, the biggest change Medellin has seen is with people –particularly the Christus VNA Hospice staff. What was once a “stale” operation has become a motivating force for growth and community outreach.

“For our staff, they always want to see the animals; they want to help. For them, it’s made a difference,” she said.

The agency hopes its program strikes a chord with current and future patients. The Pet Peace of Mind initiative adds more to the unique care services they provide, clearly demonstrating that it will go above and beyond in its efforts when compared to competitors.

There’s still plenty of work to be done, and the stocked donations and photos on Medellin’s wall prove that their community is grateful that Christus VNA Hospice is on the job.

If you are interested in learning more about enriching the lives of hospice patients and their pets, visit Pet Peace of Mind.

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