Our Story…….begins with hospice


(VIDEO EXCERPT FROM OUR NEW STAFF ORIENTATION)

The idea of Hospice is centuries old. In the medieval period, a Hospice was an inn, or resting place, usually operated by local priests and nuns. The term itself has its roots in the Latin word hospes, or guest. In modern times, Hospice became associated with compassionate care for the dying and their families. From the start, Hospice has emphasized the life and the special needs of the patient.

U.P. Hospice is proud to claim its place in the history of Hospice. We are the first provider of Hospice Philosophical Care in Michigan, and one of the original three to operate in the United States. Founded by Cynthia Nyquist in 1973, our Hospice began in tandem with a local private duty nursing organization and grew from that foundation to include the full range of Home Health, Hospice and Private Duty services provided today.

Cindy began as a “non-traditional” student enrolled in Northern Michigan University’s newly established Baccalaureate Nursing Program. Her family had experienced the loss of two important women – Cindy’s mother to breast cancer at the age of 30 (Cindy was four years old), and her stepmother at age 38 (Cindy was 19 years old), again to cancer. These special mother’s end days were spent in the capable care of hospital professionals, but removed from family and home. Cynthia recalls her frustration at the regulated routines of hospital care and the limited visiting hours. She remembers thinking there had to be a better way.

Therefore, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as part of a independent study/research project on end-of-life care, Cindy discovered that better way. She began a correspondence with Dame Cicely Saunders at St. Christopher’s Hospital in England. Saunders had founded an organization which focused on palliative – or comfort – care for the dying.  She called her organization Hospice. Intrigued, Cindy began writing Dame Saunders and built on the Hospice philosophy outlined by the British organization.

Working with a local private duty program, Cynthia founded the area’s first Hospice, bringing skilled nursing care and volunteers to patients’ homes throughout Marquette County. During those beginning years, Cindy established, monitored, & analyzed  two parallel paths for Hospice care in the Upper Peninsula.

The original organizational path, U.P. Hospice, evolved into a full-service organization, providing a comprehensive range of in-home services and skilled care. Cynthia believes this is the most effective model for any Hospice organization. When faced with a life-limiting illness, families can smoothly transition between Home Health care and Hospice care – often with no change in the caregivers they’ve grown to trust.
The second path provided care via a free-standing program which Cindy incorporated as Lake Superior Hospice in 1979 and this program continues to provide services to our community today.

A third direction that Cindy took was providing assistance & consultation (whenever requested or needed) for the development of other Hospice programs in every corner of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as throughout the United States. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan can be considered the Cradle of the Hospice Movement in the USA because of the establishment of more Hospice Programs per capita than anywhere else in the country.

Since the early-1970’s, U.P. Home Health and Hospice has evolved and matured under the steady pioneering leadership of the Nyquist family – a heritage that has grown from one family’s loss to a larger community of compassionate individuals, together providing comfort, support and empowerment to families like yours.

Cindy, and the hundreds of others involved in this mission, having committed many hours and years to the achievement of a “better way” of providing expert cutting-edge health care to the residents of Marquette County; have positioned U.P. Home Health, HOSPICE, and Private Duty to assure the continuation of these vital services for many generations to come.