Brooks, 50, spends much of her time giving presentations on end-of-life and palliative-care topics to civic and religious organizations, evangelizing on benefits of planning ahead as much as possible. For her advocacy work promoting advance-care planning and the benefits of hospice services, the Michigan Hospice and Palliative Care Organization this year named Brooks “Educator of the Year.”
But she also keeps an eye on developments in the state capital and in Washington to maintain Medicaid funding for hospice care and the availability of services to low-income families.
In October 2013, Michigan's Department of Community Health eliminated the room and board Medicaid benefit for hospice beneficiaries at 11 hospices. As a result, many frail and elderly Medicaid beneficiaries needed hospitalization for their end-of-life care. Brooks, as a board member of the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Michigan, spent six months discussing with legislators the need for the room and board benefit, which was reinstated in the state budget this past March.
“I think hospice is cost effective. We have to, in healthcare, figure out how to deliver care differently,” Brooks said. "We know that what we do makes a difference for patients and improves their quality of life.”
Among other volunteer activities outside of her executive roles, Brooks is on the planning committee for the Washtenaw Health Initiative, a voluntary collaboration working to improve access to coordinated care for low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients. She also is active in Inforum, a professional organization focused on accelerating careers for women through strategic connections. Brooks serves as a steering committee member for Inforum's Heathcare NEXT affinity group bringing together women in the healthcare industry for education and training.
Mike Mitka is a freelance writer based in River Forest, Ill. Reach him at [email protected].