It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since Gilchrist, then known as Hospice of Baltimore, began providing the finest in end of life care for terminally ill patients in Central Maryland. Back then, we cared for a handful of patients, at most, in their homes at any given time. And back then, the vast majority of our patients suffered from cancer.
It was the vision of our founding benefactor Jeanne “Jinny” Gilchrist Vance, who died in 2003, and of our founding directors, several of whom remain with the organization today, to create a non-profit hospice that would be all-inclusive and provide specialized care that could meet the individual needs of its patients. It would not be all about death but about inspiring patients to live their life to the fullest for the time that remained.
I am proud to say that, 20 years later, we still hold that vision sacred, even as we have grown to become the largest hospice organization in the State of Maryland, providing care for nearly 5,000 patients and care and support for thousands more of their loved ones each year – in homes, in residential care settings and at our two inpatient hospice centers. Our patients are of all ages and from all walks of life and suffer from a variety of life limiting conditions – not just cancer, but also Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, lung disease, ALS and more. We are now considered the gold standard for hospice care, not just in Maryland, but nationwide.
To say that we are proud of what we have accomplished is an understatement, and we plan to mark the occasion of our anniversary this year with events, remembrances and honors. Among those:
- On May 21, Gilchrist is honored to host two separate seminars, one for physicians and one for the community, by Dr. Ira Byock, a nationally-renowned expert on and advocate for hospice care and the author of “Dying Well” and several other books on end of life care. Dr. Byock’s presentations, which will include signings of his most recent book, “The Best Care Possible,” will be held at the Maritime Institute near BWI.
- Throughout the year, Gilchrist will be recognizing employees and volunteers who have gone above and beyond for their patients, families and co-workers through our new “Green Leaf” program.
Essentially, it is our goal this year to highlight for our staff, supporters and the public “what makes us special.” We’re special because of:
- Our staff and volunteers. Each and every person who works at Gilchrist shares an unending commitment to making our patients’ final journey a dignified and peaceful one, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- Our board members. Amazingly, two of the members of the original Board of Directors still sit in those seats today. They and all those who have helped govern Gilchrist during the past two decades have been tireless volunteers, fundraisers and advocates.
- Our generous donors. Gilchrist was initially made possible through the generosity and vision of Jinny Vance, but it is the continued support of the community that ensures that we can continue to grow in the face of cuts to insurance reimbursement.
- Our steadfast promise to guide our patients along their own personal journey. Hospice isn’t about us. It’s about our patients and their families. It’s about helping them to fulfill last wishes and building the relationships that will help comfort them during what will be an incredibly painful time in their lives.
Twenty years later, Gilchrist’s future remains bright. Thank you for joining us on this important journey.