VNA & Hospice of SVHC Names Hospice Services Manager


Contact:   Eileen Druckenmiller
(802) 447-5558
BENNINGTON — A 12-year veteran in hospice care, Suzanne Nicklas has joined the VNA & Hospice of SVHC as the hospice services manager. When Nicklas, a registered nurse with oncology, emergency room, discharge planning, and case management experience, discovered hospice care years ago and how it promotes living life to its fullest, she knew she had found her passion as a health care provider.
“For me,” said Nicklas, “providing hospice care is a privilege. I am grateful to the patients I have been able to support as they go through the end stages of life. It is a wonderful experience to share with someone.”
Nicklas earned her degree in nursing from the Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing. Since then, she has worked in various positions within St. Peter’s Health Care Services: as a case manager in the Emergency Department at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, N.Y., as a staff and resident supervisor at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center, a 160-bed nursing care facility in Guilderland, N.Y.; and as a case manager and intake coordinator for St. Peter’s Community Hospice.
Nicklas will quickly correct anyone who says that hospice care is for those who are in the very last stage of life.
“Hospice care is really best when we can begin working with a patient and family when the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness has been made, along with a decision to no longer seek curative treatment,” she said. “It’s about affirming life and providing a person with the resources to live life to its very fullest every day.”
The word hospice comes from French and Latin words that mean “host,” as in a host offering a warm and inviting place for a guest. Hospice care is meant to echo that definition, as it provides a full range of nursing, medical, spiritual and support services to clients and their families. These services are provided in multiple settings, meeting patient needs and offering care wherever patients reside.
The skilled hospice team at VNA & Hospice includes a medical director certified in palliative care, physicians, nurses, nurse’s aides, social workers, a chaplain, volunteers and therapists.
“Since I’ve been at SVHC, I am very impressed with the quality of the hospice team at VNA& Hospice of SVHC,” said Nicklas. “All are very talented including Dr. Schuster, our medical director who is certified by the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Board. I feel very lucky to be a part of this team.
“While someone with a life-threatening illness can have many challenges to face,” she added, “a hospice team as integrated as the one at VNA & Hospice of SVHC can assist on many levels,’ noted Nicklas. “Assisting and supporting a patient and family from the time of diagnosis to end of life is a gift. Most of us do not have the opportunity to support others through this experience.”
Nicklas lives in Johnsonville, N.Y. with her husband, Anthony, and their five children, ranging in age from 24 to three. She is also a certified yoga instructor who enjoys the peace and calmness that yoga practice offers. She loves spending time with her family and enjoying the area’s natural and cultural environments.
VNA & Hospice of SVHC is a not-for-profit organization that makes more than 30,000 home visits each year to residents of Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford. The VNA is part of the Southwestern Vermont Health Care family that includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center. To find out more about hospice care from the VNA & Hospice of SVHC, call (802) 442-5502 and ask for Intake or visit