Anniversaries, birthdays and milestones are important occasions to remember and celebrate. At Hospice of the Panhandle, we’ve become quite adept at recognizing them and helping the people we serve to celebrate and reflect. This month we have one of our own. On March 31, 2014, Hospice staff received our very first patient at our inpatient facility in Kearneysville.
This was a long-awaited dream coming to fruition. Since I began my career at Hospice of the Panhandle, I’d heard of hospices that were not only providing compassionate care at home but were able to care for their patients in their own facility. With the encouragement of our Board of Directors, particularly the Rev. GT Schramm, we contemplated, considered, studied, budgeted, raised money and eventually built our own facility. We dubbed the years-long process “Building the Dream.”
Many predicted that our 14 beds would be full within weeks. I am sad to say that has happened only occasionally over these last five years. Regulations and payment structures still create barriers to care. But even with all those struggles, Hospice of the Panhandle has now served more than 1,200 individuals at our inpatient facility. It gives me pause to think about the thousands of people — patients, family members and visitors — who have passed through our doors.
The work we do is often sad, but there are moments of joy. We have had weddings of both patients and family members, a few graduations and many special reunions of individuals who have long been estranged or separated by miles or circumstances.
The complex care of people with severe pain and many other distressing symptoms is a specialized type of care. Numerous family members have commented on how quickly our staff members were able to bring relief and comfort to their loved one when interventions in other settings just weren’t working.
Hospice cares for very seriously ill patients and that commitment continues to the end of their days. It is not unusual for someone to spend the final days of their lives at our facility. But just like hospice care is not just for the last days of life, care at our facility is also not just for those in the last days of their lives. Many people go home from our facility and many people live for months and sometimes years in our care.
I am grateful to the many people of this community who enabled us to “Build the Dream.” That dream is alive and well today.
Margaret Cogswell is the CEO of Hospice of the Panhandle. She has worked for the agency for more than 30 years. Hospice is a not-for-profit agency that has cared for patients and families with life-limiting illnesses in Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire and Jefferson counties since 1980. For more information on how hospice helps residents of the four-county area live more fully, call 304-264-0406, or visit on-line at www.hospiceotp.org