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Agrace HospiceCare News

An Exciting New Partnership

On April 19, 2016, Agrace announced an exciting new affiliation with two major Madison-area health systems: UW Health and UnityPoint Health.

Here are highlights of the new partnership:

  • The goal of this affiliation is to enhance each organization’s ability to effectively serve the end-of-life needs of people in southern Wisconsin.
  • This affiliation will focus on improving patients’ care throughout their health care journey, which is clearly in keeping with Agrace’s mission and vision.Agrace’s expertise will help these health systems meet the needs of their patients, who increasingly want high-quality hospice care as an option at the end of life.
  • Agrace’s patients will benefit from the increasing collaboration and the exchange of quality information between us and our two health system partners.UW Health and UnityPoint are committing to let Agrace lead the way in hospice and palliative care in the communities we serve by collaborating, rather than competing.
  • Agrace remains 100% independent and nonprofit. We are not merging, being “bought” or otherwise becoming financially tied to our new partners.
  • We maintain our current name, staff, volunteers and a community-based board.
  • The Agrace Foundation will continue to serve only Agrace, and we will continue to rely on support from community donors.
  • Agrace will continue to welcome patients referred by all area doctors and health systems, not just from our new affiliates.
  • We continue to be a choice for everyone in southern Wisconsin who is struggling with serious illness, including patients from Dean clinics, St. Mary’s hospitals in Madison and Janesville, and St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo.
  • UW Health and UnityPoint doctors can refer patients to other hospices, but only Agrace will collaborate with these health systems on a strategic level to
    develop innovative ways to integrate palliative care and hospice into patient care.

Former Madison heart surgeon finds life in teaching

As reported by NBC 15 on April 13, 2016

MADISON, Wis. -- A former Madison heart surgeon finds new life after retirement teaching medical students at the UW-Madison.

Doctor Louis Bernhardt worked as a heart surgeon in Madison, mainly at St. Mary's hospital, from 1971 to 2004, when he retired.

Since then, he has been teaching courses at the UW-Madison medical school. It's the same school he graduated from in 1963.

"It keeps me busy. I try to stay young, I wake up every morning so I've got some place to go," Dr. Bernhardt says.

He says he's committed to helping students prepare for a career in the medical field. He can offer them a lifetime of advice.


"Know your audience. Take ownership. Communicate with the patient not the computer. Those are a few," Dr. Bernhardt says.

Dr. Bernhardt says it's likely he'll never retire. He says he hopes to keep inspiring the next generation of doctors as he was inspired through his career.

"I get very attached to the students I teach and I feel that they're making progress in the world," Dr. Bernhardt says.

In addition to working as a teacher at the UW, Dr. Bernhardt works with several charities and outreach programs. He sits on the board for Agrace Hospice which provides care and resources for people at the end of life.


Brenda Gonzalez Joins Agrace as Diversity Manager

MADISON, Wis. – Agrace has hired Brenda Gonzalez as diversity manager. Agrace is Wisconsin’s largest nonprofit palliative care and hospice agency, providing end-of-life care and related services to people in southern Wisconsin communities for 38 years.

As diversity maBrenda standing webnager, Gonzalez will work to implement strategies for Agrace to improve access to diverse and underserved patients and assist the agency in ensuring that its staff and volunteer workforce reflects the diversity of the communities served by Agrace. Gonzalez will also oversee Agrace’s minority Certified Nursing Assistant and Emergency Medical Technician scholarship programs for graduating high school seniors and non-traditional students.

Gonzalez previously served on the Agrace Foundation’s board of directors. She joins Agrace from Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC-SCW), where she served as community marketing and health equity manager. During her time there, Gonzalez engaged organizations as well as individuals to reach out to those impacted by health insurance disparities.

Prior to GHC-SCW, Gonzalez was at UW School of Medicine and Public Health, The Benton Foundation, and Dean Health System. She has more than 20 years’ experience collaborating in the Madison community helping people navigate the complexities of our health care system, especially among linguistically and financially isolated communities.

“Brenda brings to the diversity manager role a passion for engaging our area’s Latino Community while also making sure we understand all of our diverse partners’ needs,” said Marcia Whittington, chief development officer for Agrace. “In this role, Brenda will help drive Agrace’s efforts to address the racial, ethnic cultural and socioeconomic disparities that impact access to hospice and palliative care in the communities we serve.”

Agrace Invites Richland Center Community to Learn about Hospice Volunteering at April 13 Ice Cream Social

RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. – In recognition of National Volunteer Week, Agrace Hospice & Palliative Care will host an ice cream social on April 13, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Richland Community Center, 1050 N. Orange St., Richland Center.

Agrace invites the community to stop in for a sweet treat and learn how Agrace provides high-quality, compassionate hospice care in Richland Center with the help of local volunteers. Darrel Tennant, a volunteer for Agrace and long-time resident of Richland Center, will be available to answer questions about volunteering. Agrace’s Volunteer Services staff will also be on hand to assist anyone who wants to start the process of becoming a volunteer.

“Volunteers are a vital part of the hospice care Agrace provides in Richland Center,” said Tennant. “Companionship, transportation and caregiver relief are just a few of the services volunteers offer our neighbors when they enroll with Agrace for help coping with a serious illness.”

Agrace needs volunteers for many different roles, including specialized services such as therapy pet visits, hand massages, cosmetology, music and art.

Prospective volunteers who cannot attend the ice cream social can contact Agrace’s Volunteer Services Team at (608) 327-7163 or visit

Pamela Edwards Joins Agrace as Chief Clinical Officer

Pam EdwardsPamela EdwardsAgrace has hired Pamela Edwards, RN, CHPN, as chief clinical officer. Agrace is Wisconsin’s largest nonprofit palliative care and hospice agency, providing end-of-life care and related services to people in southern Wisconsin communities for more than 35 years.

As chief clinical officer, Edwards will oversee the practices of the clinicians on Agrace’s interdisciplinary teams that provide hospice care in private homes, long-term care facilities, Agrace’s two hospice inpatient units and its hospice residence. The agency serves nearly 700 hospice patients and their families each day throughout southern Wisconsin.

Edwards joins Agrace from a nonprofit hospice in Pensacola, Fla., Covenant Hospice, for which she served as vice president of clinical services. During her 13 years with Covenant, Edwards held a series of successive clinical leadership positions, including director of clinical services and chief clinical officer. She was also previously regional clinical director for SouthernCare Hospice in Birmingham, Ala.

Prior to her hospice career, Edwards served in the U.S Army Nurse Corps for nine years, achieving the rank of major. Since 2012 she has also served as a consultant in nursing, hospice and long-term care for Thomson Reuters and Coleman Research Group.

“Pam Edwards is a nationally recognized nursing leader in hospice and palliative care who has successfully managed the unique clinical needs of a large, nonprofit hospice,” said Agrace CEO Lynne Myers. “With our organization’s focus on evidence-based clinical practice and quality enhancement, we will benefit from her experience and leadership as we continue to drive innovation in end-of-life care in southern Wisconsin.”

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