There’s so much to do…and so little time. Happy 2013! It feels like yesterday that we were buying and storing bottled water, working with our IT colleagues and praying that our computer systems would be able to handle the changing of a century. To think that 13 years have already passed is mind-boggling.
At Gilchrist Hospice Care we remain busy expanding our services to children; opening much needed acute inpatient beds; creating award winning programs, including our geriatric care continuum and end-of-life doula service; learning from our colleagues in Tanzania, Africa, where doing more with less is a way of life; and partnering with our hospital systems and aging services organizations as we all commit to improved care at the end-of-life. Our growth remains strong, but the growth we are seeing now will be dwarfed by the increases we expect in the years ahead. Every day in the U.S. alone, 10,000 people reach age 65. Based on data from the Maryland Health Care Commission, the over 65 age cohort in Maryland will reach over 1.1 million individuals by the year 2025.
Financial analysts project that if the health care system stays as it is today, we will bankrupt the country by 2036 as we seek to care for this burgeoning aging population. To me and many like me who have dedicated our careers to developing low-cost alternatives to expensive hospitalization, this sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime.
Hospice organizations know how to provide high quality, low cost care. We’ve been doing this for many decades. At Gilchrist Hospice Care we are approaching our 20th year. Our professionals know how to communicate with people about life choices and convert what is seemingly bad news (i.e. ”We can no longer cure you.”) to an understanding that the dying process can be an experience filled with compassion, love and emotional healing. If we embrace the inevitable, that we will all die someday, we will see that the dying process is another opportunity for growth and fulfillment.
Now is our time. Twenty-five percent of all government health care spending is disbursed for people in their last year of life. If we can help people find their way to hospice, we can make a meaningful difference in the physical, emotional and fiscal health of our people, and in turn our nation.
The leadership team at Gilchrist Hospice Care has been involved in a strategic planning process. For the first time we are using an outside group to help guide us and the results will focus our efforts for the next three to five years. The programs and services being considered will continue to expand our reach and bring comfort and support to those in need. They include the following:
1- Expansion of our new and successful music therapy program. The program provides symptom relief for those in pain or suffering from agitation and depression;
2- The development of a Caregiver Center that will provide support, guidance and respite for the many area caregivers who provide the majority of hospice care for their loved ones;
3- The addition of residential beds for patients and families who need them in our service area;
4- Expansion of our Palliative Care program to include long-term care facilities/homes;
5- Continued development of a state-wide network of hospice providers serving children;
6- The development of a Geriatric Care Management Service for older adults suffering from multiple chronic illnesses;
7- Stronger partnerships with health systems and aging services organizations to increase awareness about the value of end-of-life planning and services;
8- Continued education and outreach to community groups and employers regarding the importance of advance directives and hospice care as we plan for our own end-of-life care.
The future is bright for us and offers endless opportunities! We will need the continued support of our community to deliver on these new and important endeavors.
For more information about how you can help, please call Gilchrist Hospice Care at 443.849.8200 or visit gilchristhospice.org.
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