By Margaret Cogswell, CEO
When I think back over the last 30 plus years that I’ve served as the CEO of Hospice of the Panhandle, some of my most powerful memories center around words that people have said or written to me. These words have helped me with my decision-making, influenced the way we care for patients and families — and, at times—have just given me a reason to smile.
I remember a donation years ago that came in an envelope addressed to “Hotspice of the Panhandle.” I still have that envelope tucked away in my desk drawer. To me, it is a reminder that so many people do not understand the extent of our services or what we do. Today, it’s more likely that a potential new patient will tell us how we took care of another family member, neighbor or friend, but we can’t forget that there is still so much about our services that the general public doesn’t know.
One of the things I continue to be struck by are the number of people who have told me personally, or written in a thank you note with deep appreciation for how we not only cared for the patient but how we cared for them — the family members, who were acting as caregivers.
And I’ve also been struck over the years by how many people have shared – with sadness — that they wished they had called us sooner. They tell us their loved one had not been comfortable for weeks and months until coming under Hospice care. And when that happened, the family felt a huge burden lifted, and a real sense of relief. Now more comfortable, patients often were able to share memories and talk about the things that really mattered to them.
Dr. Ira Byock, a physician and hospice advocate who has written many books on hospice care and the dying process, stresses that the end of our lives is a precious time, one that can afford us the opportunity to say important things – I love you, forgive me, I forgive you, thank you and goodbye. Hospice care gave these families the opportunity to say these things, but I, too, am sad that they went through the pain and discomfort longer than necessary. I wonder what they missed out on during that time.
Our words can convey kindness, they can inform and educate, they help us share and thereby reduce burdens. Hospice care seeks to ease the burdens of patients and families struggling with an advanced illness. As Hospice staff members, we use our words to educate and to help patients and families say the things that matter most.
May you receive words of love and compassion as 2021 unfolds.
Hospice of the Panhandle is a not-for-profit healthcare provider that offers expert, compassionate care and volunteer support for people experiencing life’s final months. The goal of hospice care is to help people experience life’s final months more fully by providing a circle of support that cares for them physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Hospice care also supports families and caregivers so that they can best care for their loved ones and themselves.
For more information about how you can be surrounded by the compassionate care of Hospice of the Panhandle, call 304-264-0406 or go to hospiceotp.org.