Helping Markell Toney Live Life on His Terms

August 3, 2020

Heart of Hospice – Central Louisiana is caring for Markell Toney, a 10-year-old pediatric patient with a tracheostomy. When he recently had to undergo a brain operation that left him with difficulty communicating, his care team recognized how frustrating it was for him to struggle to be understood.

Heart of Hospice arranged for Markell to receive speech therapy to improve his abilities, but his difficulty persisted. The team learned about a piece of medical equipment, a speaking valve, that could be used with his tracheostomy that would enable him to more easily communicate with others, but Markell's caretaker, his grandmother Carolyn Celestine, was concerned she would not be able to afford the valve which is not covered by the hospice benefit.

The Heart of Hospice Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to assisting terminally-ill patients and their families in financial crisis, contacted the supplier VieMed who agreed to supply the valve at cost. The Foundation purchased the speaking valve for Markell enabling him to more easily communication with his friends, family, and care team, living life on his own terms.  

Carolyn expressed her gratitude for Heart of Hospice’s care and the Foundation’s support: "First, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for reaching out to my baby, Markell. Just when you think people have grown cold to helping out, God steps in to let you know there are still loving, caring people. This speaking valve you have purchased for Markell will help him in so many ways. I am excited to hear him again say, 'Mama, I LOVE YOU' again. Thank you for caring.”

Executive Director of the Heart of Hospice Foundation, Elyssa Katz, adds: “This is exactly the kind of patient support the Foundation is designed to provide. By working with the expert Heart of Hospice care team and the generous staff at VieMed, we were able to greatly improve the quality of life for Markell and his family when it matters most.”