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Agrace Adds More Science to the Art of Managing Heart Disease Symptoms

Fluid is draining away rather than collecting uncomfortably in Linda’s abdomen. There’s less pressure on her heart and lungs. She has fewer heart-racing episodes of atrial fibrillation (a-fib). But perhaps what Linda values most about Agrace Hospice Care is being able to have her heart failure symptoms managed at home, without weeks-long hospital stays. 

Choosing hospice care was not easy for Linda, a retired middle-school art teacher who is also a talented painter. For more than a decade, she received specialized care for a complicated case of heart disease. But eventually, there were no further curative treatment options. 

linda and gerard

“What did it for us was hearing that hospice is about comfort,” says Linda’s husband, Gerard. 

Over the past year, Linda’s Agrace nurse case manager, Nimmer Plourde, has worked to improve her comfort. He’s been able to consult with Karen Nissen-Boryczka, RN, who joined Agrace early this year as our first cardiac nurse specialist—with vast experience caring for patients with heart failure. “When we were trying to decide to go with Agrace, our hesitancy was no longer having access to the heart team,” Gerard explains. “Then all of a sudden you guys have a heart nurse! We like having that resource available to us.” 

Linda adds, “It is just more comforting to have a nurse come to your house and make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.”

karen nissen boryczka headshotAdding Specialized Cardiac Care

Unlike Linda, more than half of Agrace’s hospice patients who have heart disease come to us without a cardiologist’s care. That’s why we’ve collaborated with the American Heart Association to offer an Advanced Cardiac Care Program to both our hospice and supportive care patients. As part of this program, Karen consults with Agrace’s hospice nurses and palliative care providers to better manage patients’ troubling heart-disease symptoms like fluid retention, swelling, breathing trouble, heart palpitations, nausea, anxiety and fatigue. 

When her symptoms became very hard to manage at home last March, Linda spent a few days at Agrace’s inpatient unit in Madison. During that stay, Agrace’s care team adjusted her medications to help manage the fluid retention and breathing trouble. A pleasant surprise was seeing the hallways lined with art. “Great, great artwork!” Linda emphasizes. “Children’s art, local paintings—I’ve been going to museums for years, and it’s one of the best collections I’ve ever seen.”

After that stay, Linda’s care team arranged to have a permanent drain placed in her abdomen at an outpatient clinic. It continually removes uncomfortable excess fluid. “That was a big increase in her feeling better,” Gerard notes. 

“Having access 24/7 to Agrace and being able to call when you have any problems and concerns—it’s a surprising service you offer,” Gerard summarizes. 

Linda agrees: “It’s amazing.”


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Six Future Nurses Win Agrace Scholarships

future nurses scholarship recipients

The Agrace Future Nurses Scholarship Program is an opportunity for any Agrace employee to receive a scholarship to pursue a nursing degree. With support from the Agrace Foundation, six highly qualified applicants were awarded scholarships this year:

Delisha Smith also won the Unity Award, given to a nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse who embodies the spirit of patient care, actively seeks opportunities to learn and grow, and who stands out as a leader and visionary.

“These hard-working staff members are dedicated to our mission and to high-quality care,” says Stephanie Wipperfurth, Agrace’s clinical education manager. “We are proud to invest in their future and wish them success in their pursuit of becoming nurses!”


Upcoming Events

banding together for agrace logo

September 17: BANDing Together for Agrace, Dodgeville

Get your tickets now for this fun, three-act benefit concert at Ley Memorial Pavilion in Harris Park. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Performances by Big Cat EddieShekinah King and the Alpha Romeos and SuperTuesday start at 5:30 p.m., and there’ll be a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, food trucks and beverage tents. Register here by midnight on September 16 for just $10 per person, and save $5 off the “at the door” ticket price!

Agrace Sips & Sounds badgeOctober 29: Sips & Sounds, Janesville

Like fine wine, Sips & Sounds has been aged to perfection! At the 20th anniversary of this fabulous benefit, you can sip, sample and support Agrace’s quality care in Rock County. Bring your friends to enjoy wine and beer sampling, delectable treats, live music, an auction and more, Saturday, October 29, at the Celtic House at Glen Erin Golf Club in Janesville. Register today, or contact Cassie Hartje (608) 314-2923 with your questions.

Proceeds of these events support programs and services for Agrace’s patients and clients. 


Feel the Relief of Respite

Lynne Sexten photo

Lynne Sexten, President &. CEO

After a year of meeting seniors with memory issues at Agrace’s Adult Day Center, I continue seeing the joy in clients’ eyes when they dance to music, paint a project or share a laugh with a friend. 

What I didn’t expect was the truly immense impact I’ve seen this respite have on physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted family caregivers. 

Sixty percent of dementia caregivers have depressive or anxiety disorders. Stress-related cardiovascular risk is also a consequence of the chronic stress of caregiving. Navigating their loved one’s behaviors, such as aggression, agitation or loss of inhibition, creates the greatest caregiver burden.*

If you’re caring for a parent, spouse or sibling with dementia, you may feel alone. But there is help through the Agrace Adult Day Center and its caregiver support group. If you or someone you know could use this help, call Agrace today. 

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Lynne Sexten
President & CEO

*Cheng, S. (2017). Dementia caregiver burden: A research update and critical analysis. Current Psychiatry Reports, 19(64). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-017-0818-2


fall branch with orange leavesRewarding, Amazing, Uplifting: Volunteering

Since Agrace opened our hospice inpatient unit (IPU) and residence in Janesville eight years ago, we’ve relied on help from dedicated volunteers. 

volunteer marcy gray“Volunteering here feels rewarding, amazing and uplifting,” says Marcy Gray, who’s been with the Janesville IPU since it opened. “My presence gives the patients comfort, knowing that someone cares enough about them to spend time with them. I can also give the family a needed break to take a walk or eat. Sometimes they just need another person to give them a comforting, listening ear or a hug. I always come away feeling like I made a difference.” 

“When new volunteers come in, they’re apprehensive—until they realize ‘This is somebody’s loved one, and I can do this,’” explains Courtney Endicott, a Janesville-based volunteer coordinator. “That’s when the fear starts to dissipate. Then they can be a presence, for that person, at that time.” 

Giving back for kindness shown: “Agrace was a huge help in keeping my husband at home in his last few months of life,” says Kelly Langmeier, also a Janesville IPU volunteer. “Everyone I met was so kind, compassionate, helpful and knowledgeable. I wanted to give back by volunteering.”

“I love learning about people and their lives,” Kelly notes. “I must be easy to talk to, because patients are sometimes surprised that they have told me so much about themselves.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, whether with hospice patients (like Marcy and Kelly do) or in a behind-the-scenes role, visit our volunteer web page or call (608) 327-7163.


ellie kayakingfall leavesEllie’s Hour on a Lake  

As her health declined, 97-year-old Ellie became unable to do things she once loved—like kayaking. As an Agrace Hospice Care patient, Ellie wished to go kayaking one more time. On July 7, her wish was granted at Devil’s Lake State Park near Baraboo, through Agrace’s Wish Program. She and her daughter Janis paddled for more than an hour alongside members of their Agrace Hospice Care team. 


donors deanna and jim moris

A 32-Year Donation Tradition is an Investment in Community

Over 32 years, Deanna and Jim Moris have affected hundreds of Agrace patients and families. Through donations to Agrace, they have invested in their community, honored those who inspired them and even helped fulfill a bucket-list wish—right in their own back yard.

“I first donated to Agrace in Madison in 1990,” Deanna remembers. That gift was made in memory of a woman who had influenced Deanna to follow her dream of attending law school at the University of Wisconsin. 

Soon, Deanna developed a tradition of donating to Agrace in memory of others—more than 120 family, friends, neighbors and colleagues to date! “Families would send very touching thank-you notes, citing helpful services that they had received from Agrace. Hearing about those positive experiences during difficult times reinforced my commitment to donating.”

From Madison to Cassville

duane fishing

In 2002, Deanna moved west to Cassville, Wis., where she and Jim run a farm on the banks of the Mississippi. Agrace did not yet serve the area, but each year when Deanna made her annual list of organizations to support, Agrace was on it.

In 2018, Agrace extended our care to Grant County, and for the first time, Deanna and Jim’s Cassville community could benefit from their support of Agrace. In early 2022 they donated to our Wish program, which provides funds and coordination to grant our hospice patients’ end-of-life wishes. Just a few months later, the Wish Program helped Agrace patient Duane take one last fishing trip on the Mississippi River—at the Cassville fishing pier—with his sister, daughters and grandchildren. 

“Seeing that someone was able to benefit with a wish and have fun with his family really strengthens my belief that Agrace serves the community of people supporting the patient,” Deanna says. “I was happy to contribute one small part to that experience!”

bucket of applesYou can support Agrace’s future, too! 

Tap the button below to make a gift that supports Agrace’s mission of high-quality care. To learn more about  making a future (planned) gift to Agrace in your will or estate plan, please contact John Hromyak, foundation director, at (608) 327-7139.  

Donate Here


agrace homestore location mapAgrace Thrift Home Store Expands, Adds Mondays in October

Thanks to our donation Pack Up/Pick Up Service, our Thrift Home Store on Stoughton Road in Madison has been bursting at the seams. So we’re adding the space next door and opening on Mondays, starting in October.

We’ll have 30 percent more space for furniture, art, lamps, rugs and home décor. All proceeds from this store go to Agrace Grief Support services. You can follow us on Facebook for news about the expansion and photos of new arrivals. Come in and see us soon!


Free speakers offered

Invite Us to Teach Your Group about Grief

Grief is universal: Everyone is affected by it at some point, yet most of us feel unsure what to say or how to support someone who is grieving. That’s where Agrace can help. 

grieving teenOur Community Grief Team offers these free virtual or in-person presentations:

Grief 101—Learn about grief and how to support people who are grieving.

Supporting Grieving Kids—Learn how grief affects kids and how to best support them.

Grief and the Business Professional—Learn how organizations can support employees who are grieving.

If your organization, club, church or business would benefit from learning how to support people who are grieving, please contact us by email to learn more, or call (608) 327-7110.


7th Annual A Round With Agrace Shines

We could not have asked for a better day as our community worked together to support Agrace’s mission at Trappers Turn in Wisconsin Dells. This benefit raised more than $200,000, and we are very thankful for all who helped make it happen! 

Race for Agrace Recap

This year’s Race for Agrace brought in more than 380 participants and $45,000! Many thanks to the racers, volunteers and donors who helped raise these funds for Agrace’s Grief Support Center.