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Kansas Home Care & Hospice Association

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Kansas Home Care & Hospice Association

Home Care & Hospice Rising Star Honorees

Each year at our Annual Conference, the Kansas Home Care & Hospice Association likes to recognize some of the special people in the home care and hospice industry.  This award, added in 2022, honors a staff member of a home care or hospice agency in their first two to three years of employment in the industry who shows demonstrated growth and potential leadership, has taken on additional responsibility, and shows support for the agency and/or association. Nominees may come from any discipline. 

2023 Honorees

Rhys Baker
Volunteer Coordinator, Meadowlark Hospice
Clay Center, KS


Her nomination reads:

Rhys Baker joined our team in October of 2021 as our Volunteer Coordinator. We were still managing life in a pandemic and trying to keep volunteers engaged in our organization. Rhys came in and won the hearts of our volunteers. 

She adapted our program to ensure they still felt they were a part of the team. She would take time to write personal notes to volunteers and make sure they had plenty of stickers on the envelopes. 

Rhys has advanced our communication opportunities with our volunteers so we can better keep them connected to our team and the patients we serve. Even though waivers were allowed, our volunteer contributions stayed above 5%. ... Her desire to be a volunteer coordinator continues to shine and she makes sure our volunteers know that every second of time they support our families is time that is valued.

2022 Honorees

Michelle Watson
Informatics and Data Specialist, Douglas County Visiting Nurses
Lawrence, KS


Her nomination reads:  Michelle joined our agency in the newly created role of Informatics and Data Specialist to support technology enhancements and utilization, as well as data mining and analysis particularly in preparation for Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (VBP).

In six short months, she has mastered our EMR and outcomes software, provided existing and new staff education, launched two technology projects, and implemented new and more visually interesting electronic tools to share information with staff.

Michelle has also upgraded our quality dashboards for end user friendliness and created a quick reference to monitor VNA's VBP readiness.

For someone who has spent her professional career in long-term care, it is astonishing how rapidly Michelle has integrated into the home health and hospice arena and the industry's unique language and data. She is a trusted resource to her peers and the leadership team.

In addition to her job duties, Michelle has become a welcome addition to a number of VNA committees. Finally, she's just a joy to be around!

Jessica Abitz

RN Team Lead, Midland Care Connection
Topeka, KS


Her nomination reads:

I am nominating Jessica Abitz for the Rising Star award. Jessica started at Midland Care Home Health on November 9, 2020. In February of 2022 she took on the role of Nursing Team Leader with the Home Health department.

She has taken so much ownership in her position already and truly wants to make it successful. She took her first task of improving our onboarding by creating an onboarding binder and has proven to be a huge resource to staff already. She takes a task that is given to her and makes it exceptional.

She is motivated to be successful and help others. As the Team Leader, she is often assisting other nurses with questions or concerns regarding direct patient care. She gives great feedback to clinicians, patients, and families as well. She is supportive of her peers, she (very apparently) cares so much about her patients, and she exemplifies everything one would hope to have in a nurse.

The quality of her work is exceptional. She completes her responsibilities thoroughly and timely and does so while always looking to help others. She welcomes feedback from her supervisors and is always striving to improve. 

Jessica continues to grow more and more in her role and is a valuable part of thMidland Care Home Health team.

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