2012 Compassionfirst Award

2012 Compassionfirst Award Winners


Selina Quandahl, RN
Winneshiek County Public Health Nursing Service

Nominated by Krista Vanden Brink, Administrator at Winneshiek County Public Health Nursing Service, the following letter describes Selina’s incredible passion for caregiving, not only for her patients, but for her family too.

Selina is a very dedicated caregiver. Prior to beginning her employment with us, she worked in several area nursing homes. When I interviewed her, she said part of her dream was to open a hospice house. Little did anyone know how real this would become. Selina has been a staff nurse for our agency since October 2003. She needed very little training. Selina is a quick learner and is an eager learner. She is willing to step up to pick up referrals for home care clients. She has an amazing rapport with clients. Very quickly, trust is established between clients, families and herself.

Selina can be firm and yet very compassionate. One such instance is with her “client up north.” When she received the referral, she knew that the larger family could be an issue. She worked to help ensure that client established a power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. She coordinated care between a local physician and the VA. This client had wounds that he thought and had been told would never heal. Selina, through her persistence, convinced the client to have life and limb saving surgery–and the wounds healed! He regularly tells Selina that she saved his life. She didn’t give up on him.

Currently, as of today (August 9, 2012), Selina is the caregiver for her 4 year daughter. Kaitlyn was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor on July 29. Selina and her family were told they only had a few precious weeks with Kaitlyn. On Tuesday, August 7, Selina and her husband took Kaitlyn home from the hospital. Kaitlyn is receiving hospice care from an area hospice agency but, in the meantime, Selina is providing care. She called our office the other day and mentioned that she didn’t realize how much the hospital nurses were doing for her in caring for Kaitlyn because now much of it falls on her shoulders. Selina loves nothing more than to care for her daughter in her last days. She realizes this will be very difficult. In many ways, Selina has opened her hospice house. Many parents would too want to care for their dying child but, Selina has the skills of a nurse that also kick in and it’s hard to separate Nurse Selina from being a Mommy. I cannot think of a more compassionate, dedicated nurse who provides simply some of the very best caregiving to her clients and her family.


Myra Clark
Mount Carmel Hospice and Palliative Care

Nominated by Lori Yosick, Executive Director at Mount Carmel Hospice and Palliative Care, the following letter describes Myra’s long standing devotion of caring for others in hospice.

Myra has devoted over 30 years (more than 1/2 of her life) to hospice work. As a clinician, a mentor, a coach and manager, she has a tenacity and fearlessness in developing programs, leading teams, mentoring staff, and helping people leave this world with the same sense of peace and love that most experienced when they entered this world.

Myra’s B.S and M.A degrees are in Counseling. She has worked in a helping capacity since the mid 1970’s at Suicide Prevention, and Community Mental Health.

In 1979 she began her journey and life’s work with Hospice as an Education and Bereavement Coordinator at Hospice of Columbus. Before “Hospice” was even a Medicare benefit, Myra was part of a team that recognized the unmet needs of dying patients, and grieving family members, and worked to provide care and support.

In 1985, when Mount Carmel Health System opened a Hospice Program, Myra recognized the needs of families not only during a loved one’s stay in hospice but continuing after the death. She pioneered the bereavement program at Mount Carmel. She recognized the need for a place for families to share their grief and to learn from each other while they processed their loss.

She is the force behind the Mount Carmel Hospice Evergreen Program, developing the concept, making it work and continuing to foster innovation in the program. She brings to all of her work in hospice her sense of personal commitment to helping others heal, a commitment to worth of the individual, and a sense of personal strength and dignity.

Myra continues to be a core foundation of the program, and the barometer of the mission and passion that drives our care. She is so much deserved of this award that will honor over 30 years of dedication and service to Hospice, and is a true pioneer for what we continue to do each and every day.


James Vearil
PHC Home Health

Nominated by Sarah Gassman Schultz, Director of Home Health at PHC Home Health, the following letter describes Jame’s tireless dedication and compassion for home health care.

Jim Vearil gives of himself selflessly over and over again to our patients and staff. He is humble and quietly works behind the scenes to help others have a better life.

In home health we so often have patients who are in need. Jim’s second job is shopping at the Goodwill where he stocks up on much needed DME that he knows our patients will need and will not be able to afford. On any given day he can be seen delivering bedside commodes, bath benches, walkers, canes, hospital beds, anything we can imagine to a patient or to another therapist needing one for their patient. He gives his personal time to families who need support.

This nomination and gift would come as such as a surprise to Jim. His motivation and rewards are internal and he does not realize he is doing anything out of the ordinary. This award would show Jim just what a positive impact he makes in the lives of others, not once or twice but on a daily basis. We are truly blessed to have Jim on our team.


Joe Turnell
St. Mary’s Hospice

Nominated by Patsy Massey, Volunteer Services Coordinator at St. Mary’s Hospice, the following letter describes Joe’s incredible dedication and commitment to volunteer work for hospice.

Joe graduated from high school and went into the Army. He served in Vietnam. The terrible things he saw in the war caused Joe to examine himself. Joe knew he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When he came home, Joe went to college taking a full load of courses and working 40 hours per week for 4 years, summers included. Joe worked for 33 years. He retired and informed his wife that he wanted to do the Lord’s work and give back as much as he could to his community. Joe’s mother lost her eyesight in 1999 and his stepfather had the beginnings of dementia. Joe was their caregiver for the next 11 years. Joe’s mother died in 2004 and his stepfather died in 2010. Joe continued to care for his stepfather after his mother passed. Joe spent 16 hours a day with them, but it was out of love, not because he had to do it.

Joe was the St. Mary’s volunteer assigned to a gentleman who served in the military. The gentleman felt unworthy of forgiveness because of the things he did in wartime and was afraid of dying. Joe was a devoted volunteer for over two years to this man. If the patient went to the hospital, Joe went to visit. If the patient was at the Hospice House, Joe went to visit. It did not matter where the patient went, Joe would visit him faithfully. Joe spent countless hours talking with this gentleman about his own war experiences. This helped the gentleman accept forgiveness and made the patient’s passing easier. Joe invested in this person on a unique level. That level made a world of difference to this dying patient. The patient passed away¬ at peace with himself and God.

Joe demonstrated a superior level of patience with a child at Camp NoKose. Joe was one of the original people to help start Camp NoKose, which is a camp for kids that have lost a loved one. Joe has been a camp “Buddy” almost every year. The child had ADD and was all over the place. The child was more than just a challenge. The child tried the patience of our entire staff but never rattled Joe. He stuck with him all day. Joe treated the little boy just like he was a normal child. The staff to this day, remembers this ordeal vividly and comments, “God Bless Joe.”

Joe was recently hospitalized with severe chest pains. He had a 99% blockage resulting in a heart stent. However, Joe called the St. Mary’s volunteer coordinator, Patsy Massey concerned that he would not be able to fulfill his promise to a patient. He wanted to be sure another volunteer would fill in for him before going into surgery. What a trooper. He is always placing others before himself.

We could fill a book with stories of Joe’s unselfish caregiving of others from child to adult. He is a caregiver to thousands of individuals with his countless hours of service to numerous individuals through organizations and personal finances.

About the Compassionfirst Award

In the home health and hospice industry, we are fortunate to have some of the finest and most dedicated caregivers around. The Compassionfirst Award was created in 2010 to honor those who exemplify the very best in home care.

This annual award is presented to one home health and one hospice caregiver who goes above and beyond what is required of him or her and regularly shows compassion, kindness and dedication when caring for others.

To thank these very special people for their hard work and dedication to home health and hospice care, the Compassionfirst Award winners are honored with:

  • $500 Cash Prize
  • Recognition by HEALTHCAREfirst at the NHPCO Clinical Team Conference & NAHC Annual Meeting
  • Featured article on the HEALTHCAREfirstwebsite

2014 Compassionfirst Award Winners
2013 Compassionfirst Award Winners
2012 Compassionfirst Award Winners