Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival starts conversation about hospice care

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Forty-seven teams hit the lake this afternoon for the Mayo Clinic Health System Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival; in its 3rd year, the festival continues to promote community wellness and teamwork to support hospice services.

Dancing their way to the opening ceremonies and hitting the lake to battle it out: the festival provides a fun setting to start a conversation.

“What would you like at the end of life?” Kathy Schmiedeskamp, the Director of Hospice at Mayo Clinic System, said. “What’s important to you? What's important to your loved ones?”

And bring awareness to hospice care services.

"We're so fortunate to have such a wonderful community event to be able to talk about hospice in an open community environment to celebrate those that have experienced hospice or to even to honor our staff who serves the patients every day,” Schmiedeskamp said.

Schmiedeskamp says hospice is a coordination of care, so social workers, doctors and nurses must come together as a team, just as dragon boat paddlers do in order to be successful.

One of the 47 teams, made up of hospice employees, knows the teamwork first-hand in the dragon boat and in the patients they care for.

"We were a little out of sync in our race, but we got it together,” Mary Quarberg, a home health and hospice liaison and registered nurse, said. “As far as myself, I've been in hospice for 20 years and have had many personal connections with the patients.”

For Kathy Mikla, whose father received hospice care in 2015, it's important to bring awareness and educate others about options.

"It's very important that people know about hospice,” Mikla said. “It's something that's just great and it's available to everyone. It's very helpful for the families involved and it takes a lot of burden off of the families.”

It also brings positive light to the end of a loved one’s life.

"Sometimes people think hospice is all sad, and it is about end-of-life, but it's also about remembrances, life review, bringing families and friends together, and the quality of life that patients can have at their end of life time,” Quarberg said.

The winning team this year was “Oar We There Yet” with a time of 1:10:74.

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