Advocating for the Best Care Possible

West Virginia Caring was there when hospice was in its infancy in America.  In 1983, a group of volunteers in Preston County understood that people living with serious illness needed care, whether or not there was a cure for their condition. Their tireless work led to hiring West Virginia Caring’s first paid employee and Founding President, Ms. Malene Smith Davis. And, under her leadership she led the expansion of care into eleven more counties for WV Caring, formerly Hospice Care Corporation, to become one of the oldest and largest non-profit hospices in West Virginia. Her trail-blazing work coincided with America’s leading policymakers more than 35 years ago ensuring that West Virginians received hospice care through the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

In 2008, Malene and Hospice Care Corporation created at the West Virginia University School of Nursing the first national endowed lectureship focused on pain and palliative care – The Perry G. Fine Pain and Palliative Care Lecture Series. The endowed lectureship is the only in the country that partners a community based hospice and a major university bringing national and international pain management experts to the state.

Today, as WV Caring’s President and CEO, Malene is known nationally for her work in advocating for excellent end-of-life care. She is highly involved in the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC),

a national, nonprofit, non-partisan alliance of patient and consumer advocacy groups, health care professionals and providers, private sector stakeholders, faith-based organizations, and health care payers with the shared mission to help provide all Americans with comprehensive, high quality, patient-centered care.

Ms. Davis has been recognized for her dedication and commitment to hospice and palliative care. She has received numerous honors for her commitment to the seriously ill, including the Patient Advocacy Award from the American Academy of Pain Medicine (2013), West Virginia University School of Nursing Top 50 Graduates Award, the first Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation Project on Death in America Nursing Leadership Award in Palliative Care (2006), and the Matthew F. McNulty, Jr. 2007 Award, given by the Healthcare Council of the National Capital Area to honor outstanding healthcare leaders.

As an undergraduate, Ms. Davis received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from West Virginia University (1984), followed by master’s degree in business administration (1989) and a master’s degree nursing (1994). She has dedicated her life to the improvement of care to those with advanced illness and her success has been influential and inspirational in her community.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.

Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end of life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach of expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s wishes. Emotional and spiritual support also is extended to the family and loved ones. Generally, this care is provided in the patient’s home or in a home-like setting operated by a hospice program. Medicare, private health insurance, and Medicaid in most states cover hospice care for patients who meet certain criteria.

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