Eight years ago in 2012 one of the most prolific industrial leaders in the history of Michigan’s Great Southwest made the observation that “People are the most important asset we have, so this gift is an effort to honor and give back some of our success to the people who’ve worked for us — still work for us — as well as to the community.”
Those were the words of Merlin Hanson about his associates at the Hanson Group, and about the Hanson Hospice Center for which he and his wife Carolyn provided a lead gift of $1.5-million that year to launch construction of the hospice residence that Merlin said then, “will strengthen the community and provide comfort for many well into the future.”
That prophecy has been the absolute saving grace for hundreds of people who have died peacefully with their family by their side, getting the care they needed thanks to the creation of the Merlin & Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center. The remarkably beautiful, yet fully functional, facility is the first of its kind anywhere in the Tri-County region of Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties, and sits on an 18-acre campus aptly named the Hanson Care Park in honor of the Hansons and their tremendous generosity.
The Hanson Hospice Center is a huge relief to exhausted caregivers, to people who are too frail to remain in their own homes, and individuals with young families who do not wish to die at home.
In order to continue the incredible work of the center, donations are a perpetual need to support the care for people who do not have the ability to pay, and the community has been a huge part of that support.
For several years, one of the largest fundraisers supporting the Hanson Hospice Center has been the annual Taste Sensation Dinner & Competition, pitting celebrity chefs with real culinary champions to garner big money from friends and family members in attendance.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic is throwing a wrench into the works, leaving the organization with the unenviable task of moving briefly away from what has become a solid winning combination.
Rather than give up and take a year off, the team has innovated their new Taste With a Twist, a virtual day of giving to support benevolent care at the Merlin & Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center.
Inasmuch as the Hanson Hospice Center provides care to everyone in the community regardless of ability to pay, donor dollars that day will help assure there are resources to continue to do so.
On October 15th, 2020, you are invited all day long to follow the Caring Circle Facebook page at the link below to view inspirational video stories all day featuring families, staff and volunteers from the Hanson Hospice Center. You will also find featured cooking segments from Caffe Tosi and the Spectrum Health Lakeland Nutrition Team helping to tie things back to the Taste Sensation we’ve grown accustomed to each year. Here’s the Facebook page link:
Listen as well to all Mid-West Family radio stations starting on October 11th to learn a lot more about the center and its operations, the fundraiser and how to be a part of it, and discover for yourself what a tremendous resource we have thanks to the Hanson family and others.
Any donation, no matter what size, helps make a difference in the community and you have three ways to make such a donation:
- Click this link for online giving: http://caring-circle.org/taste
- Call Spectrum Health Lakeland Foundation offices at 269-927-5143
- Mail your donation to Spectrum Health Lakeland Foundation, Taste With a Twist, 1234 Napier Avenue, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Amazingly, Merlin & Carolyn Hanson will be matching all gifts to Taste With a Twist up to $50,000, and the committee has established a goal to raise $100,000. Keep in mind, too, that each year the Taste Sensation generally raises more than $200,000 for benevolent care.
Thanks to donors like you, in 2019 the benevolent fund provided 925 days of care at the Hanson Hospice Center, which essentially breaks down to $191,673.00.
The Hanson Hospice Center is literally a donation from the community, to the community, ensuring private, 24/7 care, in a loving and peaceful atmosphere.
Inside the Merlin & Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center, warm and homelike touches help to provide comfort to you and your loved ones, and visitors — including pets — are welcome 24-hours a day.
The center features a beautiful, peaceful Reflection Room for prayer, meditation, and quiet contemplation. There are also accommodations for family members to stay overnight. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide unrestricted views of the glorious landscape right outside.
Families also find gathering rooms large and small for conversation and comfort, including a relaxing Great Room and multiple Family Rooms with kitchen facilities. There is also a private spa tub room and massage therapy services.
For the people whose final days will be spent there, the center provides private, spacious suites with many thoughtful design elements, and there are screened-in porches, patios, and a pavilion large enough for wheelchairs or even beds. Showering and laundry facilities are thoughtfully included for families maintaining a vigil with loved ones.
The people who operate and maintain the Merlin & Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center have a singular goal to provide great physical, spiritual and emotional care. They want to help you and your loved ones be as comfortable as possible, and create space for all of the moments large and small that are a part of an important part of your lives.
The center is literally a home-away-from-home for people in a variety of situations including, but not exclusive to:
- Those who have specialized needs and care requirements…
- Those who do not have a caregiver…
- Those who caregivers are frail in their own right…
- Those who prefer to have their family together at a place other than home…
- Those who need additional support in the final weeks of life, or as symptoms become difficult to manage in the family home…
Residents of the Hanson Hospice Center receive 24-hour care from the on-site team. Hospice care is not just physical. It is also spiritual and emotional. In addition to any community-based healthcare providers that may visit clients at the center, the entire team of professionals is there to support not only the client, but family members and friends as well.
Team members at Hanson Hospice include:
- A Physician
- A Social Worker
- A Spiritual Care Coordinator
- Bereavement Support
- Hospice Aides
- Massage Therapists
- Other Therapists as needed
- Registered & Licensed Practical Nurses
- Service & Hospitality
That professional team works with each client and family on an individualized Plan of Care, however there are generally three levels of care offered at the Hanson Hospice Center, which are:
- Respite Care — For when caregivers need a little break. If a caregiver needs a short time of relief, their loved one may be admitted to the center for respite care. They may stay for up to five days, and caregivers can rest assured that their loved one is being well looked after while they take a break to recharge.
- General Inpatient — For when you need an alternative to the hospital. Sometimes people need to go to the Hanson Hospice Center when they require treatments for pain and symptom management. General inpatient care is also used to provide education for families as they learn how to care for their loved one. Once stabilized, the client may return home, or hospice staff can assist a family in finding the best place for their loved one to get the care they need, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility.
- Residential — For when you need a comfortable place to stay. People choosing to live at the Hanson Hospice Center pay a reasonable standard daily room and board charge. That covers 24-hour nursing care and all amenities. Some long-term care insurance plans will cover the room and board fee. In all cases, the team works hard to make sure that it is affordable, and that anyone who needs to stay can do so.
While we can tell you lots of great things about the Hanson Hospice Center, sometimes, it’s best to let the people who benefit from such an experience tell you in their own words. We leave you now, from the archives at the Hanson Center, with one such bit of testimony:
“I carry a special moment with me from the time leading up to Mike’s death. Our daughter was nearing her 11th birthday and due to Mike’s declining health, we knew he would not survive to celebrate with her on that special day. Our care team recognized that Mike was having a few good days and suggested we have an early birthday party. We did. We had a small dinner with family celebrating our daughter. Two days later Mike transferred to Hanson Hospice Center where we would spend our time together during his last hours of life.
I am so grateful for this time. Not only did my daughter get one more birthday with her dad, Mike was able to see our daughter’s happiness during that party one more time. In that moment I learned hospice is so much more than the medical aspect of dying. It’s all about living well. It gave my daughter and me memories that we will carry forever.”