Sisters of Providence announce recipient of 2007 Mother Joseph Award

October 25, 2007


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Karen Bell, a pioneer in the hospice movement in the state of Oregon, has been chosen by the Sisters of Providence to receive the 2007 Mother Joseph Award.? Since the mid 1980s, Bell has been manager/director of hospice and palliative care services for Providence Home and Community Services in Portland.

The annual award is given to a person who “exemplifies the values and courage of Mother Joseph,” the first provincial superior of the Sisters of Providence in the West. It will be presented at 2 p.m. Friday, November 30, at Providence Portland Medical Center, HCC 1-2-3 room, followed by a reception.

Bell was nominated for the honor by the administration of Providence Home and Community Services, in addition to a host of staff members and other hospice leaders. “Karen has accomplished a feat that is virtually unparalleled,” her nominators wrote. “She envisioned and built, from the ground up, a hospice program that today cares for 500 terminally ill patients every day. Moreover, for decades she has been an advocate and a leader on local, state, regional and national levels for comprehensive, accessible, high-quality hospice care.

“Her nominators tell us that her work in hospice emulates the work of Mother Joseph and the Sisters of Providence in the world today,” says Sister Charlotte Van Dyke, the Provincial Council member who coordinates the awards process. “The combination of her vision for superior end of life care, excellent clinical skills, sharp business acumen and ability to build a hardworking, compassionate team has enabled Providence to minister to tens of thousands of patients and families at end of life in the largest and most diverse hospice program in the State of Oregon.”

Bell also is credited with effectively acting as the primary spokesperson for hospice during the public debate over physician assisted suicide in 1993-94, and with bringing proponents and opponents of the Death With Dignity Act together after attempts to repeal the law failed. Ann Jackson, executive director and CEO of the Oregon Hospice Association (OHA), Inc., says “Karen Bell’s blessing helped move us forward after a very difficult time.” Bell is a former board member and board chair of OHA, and received its Beth Wessinger Award for dedication and commitment to the hospice movement in Oregon and for being an inspirational mentor.

In Karen’s own words: “The foundational principle is that life has a meaning and value until the very end, regardless of a person’s physical condition or mental state.”

“Her life has confirmed this value,” Sister Charlotte says.