News & Events



Rhea North with Gunner the dog and Annie Schiller with Noah the miniature horse visit James Spencer at Hospice of Lenawee’s Hospice Home.Annie Schiller with Noah and Rhea North with Gunner walk down a hallway at Hospice of Lenawee’s Hospice Home. 

Therapy Animals Bring Smiles & Healing
By Arlene Bachanov
Lenawee HealthBeat

This story first appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Lenawee HealthBeat magazine.
A patient at Hospice of Lenawee’s Hospice Home looks over from his bed as one of the home’s therapy animals enters his room to pay a visit.
“Oh, my gosh,” he says. “I’ll be darned. That’s quite a horse.”
Yes, he said “horse.”
Noah the miniature horse — who during his visits to Hospice Home sports tennis shoes that came off of toy animals over his hooves, both to protect the floors and to give him better traction on the hard flooring — walks up to the man’s bedside and nuzzles at him as his family looks on. “I’ll be darned,” the patient says several more times, petting Noah’s neck.
Three-year-old Noah is owned by Annie Schiller, who operates Heavenly Days, a pet boarding, training and daycare facility outside Adrian. Schiller and Noah often visit Hospice Home, strolling down the hallway, interacting with family members, and going into patients’ rooms. They’re often there to see one particular patient: James Spencer.
When the pair enters Spencer’s room, they find the retired veterinarian sitting in a chair. Noah goes directly up to Spencer and cozies right up to him as Spencer pets him.
Noah usually gets an “exam” from Spencer whenever they see each other, with the retired vet giving him the once-over and even checking his teeth.
“He’s gotten bigger since I saw him last time,” Spencer says.
Out in the hallway, Hospice Home’s therapy dog, Gunner the English setter, sits patiently with his owner, Rhea North, holding his leash. Sporting a blue kerchief that reads “I am a therapy dog — sharing smiles and joy,” 7-year-old Gunner is a regular visitor to the home, as well as to nursing homes around the area.
“He was here for the very first patient,” North says as Gunner, who’s a retired American Kennel Club national champion show dog, stretches out on the floor for a quick nap.
To her, the phrase on her dog’s kerchief about “sharing smiles and joy” says it all. Patients “will smile and grin from ear to ear” when Gunner comes into their rooms. Or, even if they don’t have the strength for a smile, the effect he has on them is still there.
“I’ve seen people who will rub his head even when they can’t do anything else, even if they can’t even open their eyes,” says North. Gunner also does his part to help visitors, greeting friends and relatives and cheering them up as much as he does the patients.

“It’s beyond my expectations, the joy it can bring to a patient, to the family, to visitors,” North says.
Not only do Hospice’s visiting animal therapists, who also include a cat, brighten patients’ day — as do the patients’ own pets when they come to visit — but there is a measurable benefit as well, says Hospice of Lenawee’s medical director, Dr. William Gray.
“You can see while the animals are there that (the patients) report less pain,” says Gray.
Schiller has done pet therapy work at local schools and nursing homes for years with the help of several animals besides Noah, including her yellow Lab, Preacher.
She and Preacher are also part of a crisis response team, Miracle Meadows Ministries, that has assisted at incidents including the shooting at Chardon (Ohio) High School and the 2010 tornado in Millbury, Ohio.
At the scene of the tornado’s devastation, “Preacher played Frisbee with kids who lost their homes,” Schiller says.
And he did more than bring some happiness and normalcy to a group of children. Schiller tells the story of how Preacher interacted with a woman whose daughter died in the tornado, who just petted the dog and cried.
“Horses and dogs both connect with people in a way that we don’t,” Schiller says. “I find that people will talk to the animals in a way they won’t talk to people. … And they just have this sense about them of what people need.”
Preacher is also a trained Reading Education Assistance Dog, as was one of Schiller’s other therapy animals, the late Amos. The dogs have worked with Tecumseh schoolchildren who are learning how to read.
When children read to dogs, they tend to be more relaxed about the whole process because they don’t feel judged as they might be by their peers, and they can learn better. And “autistic kids can read better when they pet an animal,” says Schiller, “because the petting is a steady rhythm.”
Therapy animals have positive effects on autistic children in general, says Gray. “Having an animal around helps pull them out,” he says. “You can see their eyes lighting up when they’re around animals.”
And Schiller thinks the benefits that therapy animals bring to others brings joy to their owners as well. “I’ve been doing (pet therapy) for a long time,” she says. “But it still just blesses my heart.”

Hospice of Lenawee received the following letter on April 1, 2014 informing us that we were chosen a 2014 HOSPICE HONORS award recipient.  This will be the second consecutive year that Hospice of Lenawee received this honor.

April 1, 2014

Hospice of Lenawee

415 Mill Rd Ste 4

Adrian, MI 49221

Congratulations! Your hospice has been named a 2014 HOSPICE HONORS™ recipient. 

Hospice HonorsTM is a prestigious, annual honor recognizing the hospices that continuously provide the highest level of satisfaction through their care as measured from the caregiver’s point of view.

Award criteria were based on the FEHC survey results for an evaluation period of October 2012 through September 2013. In order to receive the award, hospices must be currently partnering with Deyta and must have had at least one survey returned in each of the four quarters of the evaluation period. Deyta identified award recipients by evaluating hospices’ performance on a set of eighteen satisfaction indicator measures. The set of questions included only indicator measures, omitting qualifying, leader and demographic questions. Individual hospice performance scores were aggregated for the evaluation period and were compared on a question-by-question basis to a national average score calculated from more than 1700 partnering hospices contained in Deyta’s FEHC database.

Hospice Honors recipients include those hospices scoring above the Deyta National Average on at least eighty-five percent, or sixteen, of the evaluated questions. Deyta holds a special recognition, Hospice Honors Elite, to honor hospices scoring above the Deyta National Average on one hundred percent, or all eighteen, of the evaluated questions.

The Hospice HonorsTM program is created and sponsored by Deyta LLC, an industry leader in data driven management. It is our way of acknowledging hospices that are being proactive with their survey results by leveraging their data to improve the patient and caregiver experience, and are demonstrating quality to patients and referral partners.

You are leading the way!


J. Kevin Porter

President & CEO


The Michigan Department of Community Health Eliminates Medicaid Room & Board Reimbursement for Residence Facilities in Michigan

Effective October 1, 2013, The Michigan Department of Community Health is eliminating room and board reimbursement for Medicaid patients at 11 dually-licensed residential facilities across Michigan including Hospice of Lenawee’s Hospice Home.  Current Medicaid recipients residing in our Hospice Home receiving room and board coverage will continue to receive coverage until September 30, 2014.  To access Frequently Asked Questions regarding this issue click on FAQ Regarding Medicaid Reimbursement for Room & Board – HOL

Hospice of Lenawee Named as Prestigious 2013 HOSPICE HONORS Recipient

Adrian, MI, April 25, 2013 — Hospice of Lenawee has been named a 2013 Hospice Honors recipient, a prestigious award recognizing hospice agencies providing the best patient care as rated by the patient’s caregiver.

Established by Deyta, this prestigious annual honor recognizes the top 100 agencies that continuously provide the highest level of satisfaction through their care as measured from the caregiver’s point of view. Deyta used the Family Evaluation of Hospice Care (FEHC) survey results from over 1,200 partnering hospice agencies contained in its national, FEHC database with an evaluation period of January through December 2012. Deyta used the five key drivers of caregiver satisfaction as the basis of the Hospice Honors calculations.

“Hospice Honors defines a new standard of excellence in the patient/family experience for hospice agencies,” says Liz Silva, Director of Hospice, “Identifying these top-performing hospices is our way of recognizing organizations that have demonstrated high quality of care to both patients and caregivers. That positive family experience is a key driver of ongoing patient-focused care and overall agency success.”

Hospice of Lenawee’s President Bill Kenyon, credits the nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement team and volunteers as the real recipeints of this honor. He said, “This is not just a job for anyone on our team; it is a calling. That calling is felt by the patients and family members we assist at the end-of-life. Being identified as among the best hospices in the country is both humbling and rewarding. We are constantly seeking to improve our care and this recognition is evidence that we are moving in the right direction.”

Hospice of Lenawee is a non-profit community based Hospice founded in 1982. The mission of Hospice of Lenawee is to provide compassionate, patient and family centered care to the people of our community during and after the last season of life. Hospice of Lenawee offers, as a community service and at no charge, its expertise in trauma and loss support for our youth, and bereavement and grief support for children and adults alike.

About Deyta, LLC

Partnering with thousands of hospice, home health, human services, and other healthcare organizations, Deyta simplifies data driven management, enabling our clients to overcome the avalanche of information that clouds good judgment. With Deyta, healthcare leaders make proactive decisions that strengthen financial performance, improve operational efficiency, assure CMS compliance, and provide better patient care.


Father Patrick Lowery lead a Blessing of the Building during the “30 Years of Hospice Families” celebration on Sept. 25 at the new Hospice of Lenawee residential care facility, where others, including Hospice President and CEO Bill Kenyon (pictured) joined in the ceremonial blessing. Photo by Jim Lincoln

The Tecumseh Herald – Hospice of Lenawee celebrates 30 years with ceremony

A celebration titled “30 Years of Hospice Families” was held on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the new Hospice of Lenawee residential care facility on Wolf Creek Hwy., in Adrian.

For Tecumseh resident Sally Whelan, the opening of the new care facility was a dream come true as she joined a crowd of over 200 supporters to celebrate the organization’s 30th Anniversary.

“It’s an honor working with Hospice,” Whelan said. “It’s been my baby and my life.”

Whelan began working as a volunteer for Hospice back in the 1980’s and currently serves on the board and three committees.

Hospice of Lenawee President and CEO Bill Kenyon presented welcoming remarks. The new facility, he said, could not have been achieved without the support of many people over the past 30 years, noting especially the early efforts of the late Dr. Bruce Jones. He also gave credit to the supporting staff, nurses, aides, social workers, bereavement and spiritual care teams, board members and all the volunteers that work for Hospice and its mission.

Hospice Board Chairperson Jere Righter said the mission statement still applies 30 years later. “We carry your heart in our heart,” Righter said, “and may we all work to continue to fulfill the mission for years to come.”

Sister Rosemary Ferguson performed a Blessing of the Hands ceremony, during which she said, “We owe a multitude of gratitude” for Hospice and the support it has received.

The new Hospice residential facility has served over 40 patients since opening in July, and is $650,000 from its fundraising goal of $5 million.

“We are so fortunate to have a community which can come together to have this facility built,” said Holleigh Baker, Hospice of Lenawee board member. Baker began as a volunteer for the Hospice Lights of Love campaign and has become involved with the organization after the support two of her grandmothers had received by Hospice caregivers.

Following the ceremony, a special Walk of Remembrance was held. Hospice staff members had placed numbers along a walk to signify the number of patients served during each of the past 30 years.



Ruth Sissom Green, Author, to Speak at Hospice of Lenawee

Ruth Sissom lost her husband suddenly. Found by their 17 year old son Paul, Ruth’s husband had been pinned under an automobile that he had been working on for his daughter. Paul raised the car, got him out, and called an ambulance, but Ruth’s husband was pronounced dead at the hospital.

A woman of great faith, Ruth would begin a journey through grief that would test the depth of her soul.

Ruth will present “Gifts Wrapped in Pain” at Hospice of Lenawee on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 7 p.m. The public is invited to hear from a woman who is acquainted with grief and journeyed in the desert of loss.

Below is an excerpt from Ruth’s book, Instantly a Widow.

At the end of the service the funeral director came down to the front row to escort me out to the waiting hearse. My face felt hot, swollen, and wet. I’m glad this service is over! If only I could slip out a side door so I wouldn’t have to face these people. I’m so embarrassed that I can’t keep from crying. I looked into the sea of faces as I started back the aisle. All eyes seemed fixed on me. There were tears in many of them. A dark cloud of shock and sadness seemed to encompass the entire congregation. How deeply do they feel this pain? Can they even begin to realize how “chopped in half ” I feel? An eerie silence prevailed as people left the church. Most of them spoke in hushed tones or not at all.

Mother joined the children and me in the hearse. A kind neighbor came to hug Janet and comfort her. Janet had babysat her children many times. What a thoughtful, compassionate gesture. Mother’s kind, loving presence helped dispel the icy coldness of the hearse. We are taking him past his home for the last time. The woods, the barn he built, the memories. It’s over for him. My children are being so brave and I’m a wreck. I’m supposed to be the strong one, and I’m falling apart.

Help me to be strong, Lord.”

The sun peeked through the clouds warming me with a feeling of God’s love as we drove into the cemetery. The short graveside ceremony seemed like a blur.

We returned to the church for the dinner lovingly prepared by the ladies. I felt stunned and dazed. Everyone is laughing, talking, eating, as if nothing is wrong. How can they eat? My stomach feels full of lead. How can I go on?

I felt enveloped by dark clouds of confusion, in a separate world from those around me.

Unfortunately the anguish that seemed so intense was but a small foretaste of that to come.

Excerpt from Instantly a Widow by Ruth Sissom, pp 10-11, Discovery House Publishers

July 20, 2012

A Date to Remember

It is with a deep sense of gratitude, a strong sense of humility and a great deal of pride for Hospice of Lenawee that I am pleased to tell you that the State of Michigan has authorized a license for a hospice residence and that we will admit our first patient to the hospice home today,  July 20, 2012.

The creation of this home and the building that serves our entire team could not have been accomplished without the dedicated work of many.  At the risk of leaving someone out, let me suggest the many people who have made this dream a reality.

  • The hospice teams, past and present, upon whose shoulders the reputation of Hospice of Lenawee has been built.  We could not have even started to THINK about doing a project such as this without the wonderful, compassionate work that all of the people here do.  And when I refer to the team, I include everyone from the nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers to the bereavement team, support staff and maintenance people.
  • The Board of Directors who showed tremendous faith in the team when they voted in February of 2008 to move forward with this project and who have supported it with their time, talent and treasure.
  • The architects, contractors and builders who used their remarkable skills to construct a beautiful building with quality materials and workmanship.
  • Over 700 people from our community who have provided financial support at every level imaginable.
  • The patients and families who honor us by allowing us to come into their lives at the most challenging time to provide our compassionate care.

From our President & CEO, William S. Kenyon

Longboarding for Hospice of Lenawee

On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, Grant Neblo and Jesse Adrian, seniors at Onsted High School will begin their trip to Chicago to benefit Hospice of Lenawee’s new Hospice Home – their mode of transportation – Longboards!  TLC Community Credit Union will sponsor a breakfast at Hospice of Lenawee, 1903 Wolf Creek Hwy. from 7:30 am – 9:00 am to benefit Grant & Jesse’s fundraiser.   Come and enjoy this free-will donation breakfast and add to their fundraising total.   Stay and bid farewell to Grant & Jesse as they set off on their journey at 9:00 a.m.   Thank you Jesse & Grant – have a safe trip!

Mission Possible II Benefit Concert

Hospice of Lenawee is honored to be one of the seven local charities to benefit from the Mission Possible II Concert, featuring Paragon and Emmaus. The concert is Saturday May 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm at Dawson Auditorium, Adrian College.

Mission Possible Poster

Hospice of Lenawee celebrates new residence with open house

By John Mulcahy, Daily Telegram
Posted Feb 11, 2012 @ 02:03 PM on

ribbon cuttingThe public got its first look Friday at the new Hospice of Lenawee facility during a community open house.

What people saw were eight residential patient rooms with windows looking onto trees and doors wide enough to wheel beds onto individual patios; a room with a spa tub for patients; a chapel; a bereavement center; a family room; and offices to house the organization’s home care program and administrative functions.

The 21,000-square-foot facility, located on seven acres at 1903 Wolf Creek Highway, allows hospice to offer residential rooms to patients who are too ill to remain at home, a service the organization did not have previously.

Hospice cares for people with terminal illnesses.

Several hundred people had already arrived at the beginning of the open house, which lasted from 2 to 7 p.m.

“I am awestruck by the beauty of this place, by the support we’ve gotten, by the number of people coming to visit,” hospice president and CEO Bill Kenyon said.

During brief remarks before a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kenyon recalled Dr. Bruce Jones, a particularly enthusiastic supporter of the organization during its early days in the 1980s. Jones died in a car crash in 1990.

“This was his dream and it’s a fulfillment of his dream,” Kenyon said. “Bruce’s spirit is with us today and will be with us in the years to come.”

Read the full story and view photos of the event on

Hospice of Lenawee unveils new look, gives peek at new facility

By Erik Gable, Daily Telegram
Posted Jan 07, 2012 @ 02:38 PM on

Hospice of Lenawee unveiled its new logo and gave supporters a look at its nearly-finished residential facility Friday afternoon.

After executive director Bill Kenyon unveiled the logo, Deborah Loercher of Anoroc, a marketing agency that specializes in Hospice organi­­zations, explained the purpose behind its various parts. The logo depicts a pair of upstretched hands encircling a heart, supporting and uplifting it. Simultaneously, she said, the pieces of the logo together resemble a flower, signaling growth and hope.

The legend reads “Hospice of Lenawee — We carry your heart in our heart.” The new Hospice facility has enough rooms for eight residential patients — people in Hospice care who are no longer able to stay in their own homes.

Read the full story and view photos of the event on

Hospice of Lenawee is proud to announce recent CHAP Accreditation

Hospice of Lenawee is proud to announce its recent accreditation by The Community Health Accreditation Program, Inc. (CHAP). CHAP is an independent accrediting body founded in 1965; the organization is recognized as the leader in improving the quality of community based health care services in the USA. Accreditation has been granted to Hospice of Lenawee for compliance with CHAP Standards of Excellence after an initial application process, self-study and an intense four-day CHAP site visit.Bill Kenyon, President and CEO of Hospice of Lenawee, says, “We have always offered exceptional care to our friends and neighbors. CHAP accreditation allows us to focus on continual improvement by adhering to standards of excellence. The affirmation we have received from CHAP allows us to show our community that our level of care is superior and we will continue to do all that we can to meet the needs of our county by providing community based compassionate care.”

According to their website (, CHAP is an independent organization whose standards go above and beyond that of Medicare and other organizational guidelines. CHAP was granted “deeming authority” by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 1992 for home health and in 1999, for hospice. This means that instead of state surveys, CHAP has regulatory authorization to survey agencies providing home health and hospice services, to determine whether they meet the Medicare Conditions of Participation (COPs).

Patt Hayes, Chair of the Hospice of Lenawee Board explains, “CHAP accreditation marks an important step for Hospice of Lenawee. We are proud to say that we serve our Lenawee Community with the highest level of professional care and compassion.”

The mission of Hospice of Lenawee is to provide compassionate, patient and family centered care to the people of our community during and after the final season of life. Hospice of Lenawee offers, as a community service and at no charge, its expertise in trauma and loss support for our youth, and bereavement and grief support for children and adults alike.

lenawee media kit
Download our Media Kit