HPU students are in Congdon Hall’s new anatomy lab, which was built to meet the industry’s highest standards.
HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 3, 2018 – A new Willed Body Program has launched at High Point University, allowing donors to contribute to the education of health care providers in HPU’s graduate programs while also receiving a high level of care in their end-of-life planning.
Inside HPU’s new Congdon Hall, which houses the Congdon School of Health Sciences and the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy, is a state-of-the-art anatomy lab, where students are introduced to their very first patients. Through these experiences, graduate students in athletic training, physical therapy and physician assistant studies not only learn innovative medical procedures, but also learn how to treat each person with dignity and respect.
In turn, donors and their families receive a high standard of care from two full-time employees who operate the program – Amanda Mittelstadt, director of HPU’s Willed Body Program, and Rumeal Ferguson, assistant director of the Willed Body Program.
Both have unique backgrounds. Rather than anatomists, who traditionally manage an anatomical gift program, Mittelstadt and Ferguson are licensed funeral service providers who have worked in the funeral industry for many years. Each of them have worked closely with many families in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of a loved one.
“HPU’s Willed Body Program is designed to provide a higher standard of care for donors and their families and has created many touch points that will continue to connect them to HPU,” says Mittelstadt. “We don’t ever lose sight of the fact that our donors were once someone’s daughter or son, brother or sister, mother or father.”
Mittelstadt has more than 10 years of experience in the funeral industry. She recently came from Cumby Family Funeral Service to build HPU’s Willed Body Program and oversee the anatomy lab. She says she is excited to build relationships with families who are interested in giving back and are looking for ways to positively impact the future of health care.
Ferguson joined the program in December 2017 and assists with the daily anatomy lab activities, coordinating the acceptance of donations for medical research and education, and preparation of donors. He started as a funeral attendant 14 years ago and worked his way up to becoming a licensed funeral director, embalmer and crematory operator. He holds the Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) designation, which is the highest professional designation given to individuals in the funeral industry.
“Being from the funeral industry, we understand the needs and wants of families during difficult times,” says Mittelstadt. “We understand that families need compassion, care and someone they can open up to. We want to build relationships with our families throughout their involvement in our program. We want to build trust and support.”
In addition to the intrinsic value of contributing to the education of future health care providers, donors can also benefit from potentially decreased funeral costs, have their name engraved on HPU’s Tree of Life inside Congdon Hall and be honored during an annual memorial service held by the university. The program also provides cremation and return of ashes to the family, interment for donors in the university’s Memorial Garden, or ashes scattered in the Atlantic Ocean.
“By donating their body, our donors help not just one student, but many,” says Mittelstadt. “Students remember donors as their first patient who helped them develop an understanding of humanity. Students will take that with them when they begin to treat patients. It’s a legacy that will always live on and give back.”
The program covers the following costs for those who apply and meet selection criteria:
-Complimentary transportation within a 300-mile radius directly from HPU, provided 24/7. Mittelstadt notes that many anatomical gift programs require a family to pay for transportation through a third-party funeral home, but HPU arranges this directly with a locally contracted funeral service provider and covers this cost.
-Preparation for donation and cremation upon completion
-Filing the death certificate and a burial transit permit
-Cremation and urn
-The donor’s choice of remains interred in HPU’s Memorial Garden, scattered in the Atlantic Ocean or returned to family and friends
-Donor’s name permanently engraved on a leaf located on the Tree of Life outside the anatomy lab in Congdon Hall
-Annual Memorial Service for donors and their families
“This new space and new program are educating the next generation of health care providers while helping families honor their loved ones,” she says. “Building relationships and trust is important so we help families move to the next step. That’s what funerals are all about – bringing communities together to say we support you and we love you, and HPU is a very supportive and loving community.”