Caring Circle celebrates 40 years of service in southwest Michigan

Published 2:08 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

ST. JOSEPH – Throughout the month of November, Caring Circle, formerly Hospice at Home, celebrates 40 years of service in southwest Michigan and joins organizations across the nation in recognition of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.

In 1981, a group of individuals in Berrien County organized to determine the need for hospice care in Southwest Michigan. In June of that year, the group officially became board incorporated by the State of Michigan and Hospice at Home was launched. The first volunteer training was conducted in 1982 and the first patients were admitted into the program in July of that year.

Over the last four decades, Caring Circle of Spectrum Health Lakeland has helped provide comfort and dignity to thousands of people throughout Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties, allowing them to spend their final months wherever they call home, surrounded by their loved ones, officials said.

Hospice care is unique in that it offers an interdisciplinary team approach to treatment. Caring for the whole person allows the team to address each patient’s unique needs and challenges. Hospice care ensures that pain management, therapies and treatments all support a plan centered on the person’s goals. Hospice care also provides emotional support and advice to help family members become confident caregivers and adjust to the future with grief support for up to a year, representatives said.

“It is an honor and privilege to celebrate over 40 years serving our communities with high-quality, supportive hospice care,” said Melinda Gruber, vice president of continued care services and president, Caring Circle. “Over the years, we have expanded our services to include both a community- and hospital-based palliative care program, began offering grief support through Lory’s Place, built the Merlin and Carolyn Hanson Hospice Center, and initiated a transitions program for people who need connections and support from community-based services.”

“It is essential that people understand that hospice and palliative care is not giving up, it is not the abandonment of care, and it is not reserved for the imminently dying,” said Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “Hospice is a successful model of person-centered care that brings hope, dignity and compassion when they are most needed.”

More information about hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning is available at