Every November, we come together as a hospice community to celebrate who we are, what we do, and the amazing families who invite us on their intimate journey at the end of life, allowing us to guide the way through their darkest time.
During National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, we honor the work of our amazing hospice clinicians, volunteers and administrative staff in a very public way. It is our reminder to our nation and its citizens of the important place hospice holds in the continuum of health care options – of its role in ensuring that terminally ill patients will live their last months, weeks and days in comfort and with dignity, surrounded by loved ones in their most familiar place, home.
With each passing year, we become more and more confident that the message of hospice – that hope does not end with a terminal diagnosis, that a sterile death in the clinical confines of a hospital is not inevitable, that patients and families can still dream and do with the help of an able hospice team – is being spread far and wide. After all, the numbers tell the tale: in 2010, 1.4 million Americans were on hospice care at the time of death but by 2014 that number had grown to 1.7 million. Locally, the growth is more dramatic: at this time last year, Gilchrist Hospice Care was providing care for 585 patients every day; today, that number stands at 740.
But hospice is, and always has been, about so much more than numbers. It’s about the people: It’s about the nurse who takes a few extra minutes to rub her patient’s feet at the end of a visit. It’s about the hospice aide who brings her lunch so that a patient does not have to eat alone. It’s about the social worker who tracks down a donated suit that will fit a patient’s shrunken body so he can attend a family function, and the chaplain who brings communion to a patient on Christmas Eve, and the volunteer who patiently records a patient’s hopes and dreams and advice for her daughters in a journal. And it’s about the caregivers – those family members or friends who spend months worrying and doing and caring for their loved one. It seems fitting, in fact, that November is also National Family Caregivers Month.
But while all of our care is special, what’s most amazing about hospices nationwide is our ability to grow and adapt, to dream, if you will, of new ways to provide the finest care through the end of life. For Gilchrist Hospice Care, it has long been our vision and desire to incorporate the amazing philosophies at the root of hospice’s success into the care patients receive before they are terminally ill. This year, we put those thoughts into action with the creation of Gilchrist Services, which offers a coordinated and compassionate program of care at every step in the healthcare journeys of patients with chronic, advanced and terminal illnesses.
Through Gilchrist Services’ many programs, individuals who are not necessarily terminally ill, but suffer from a serious illness or condition, can now receive holistic, patient-centered care that anticipates their needs, that encourages proactive decision-making and that walks with them from diagnosis to working to maintain maximum health and function to eventual decline. We’re proud to offer such comprehensive care for our patients and families.
During this National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and every month of the year, we remain focused on our present and our future. We remain focused on providing the finest care through the end of life – care that is individually tailored to the wants and needs of each patient and family. And we remain focused on exploring new ways to enhance and expand our care, to improve the lives of all those we are privileged to care for.
To all of the hospice advocates working locally and nationally, thank you for all you do!!