The following article was published in The Post-Journal on July 25, 2020 by Reporter Jay Young. The original article can be found HERE.
For patients dealing with end-of-life healthcare needs, Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care has provided an invaluable service to Western New York since 1982.
In 2019, the organization’s team of 67 healthcare professionals and 85 volunteers helped to deliver compassionate care to 522 families, and provided bereavement care to 574 families mourning the loss of a loved one.
“The vast majority of people at the end of their life would prefer to die at home,” said Shauna Anderson, CHPC president and CEO. “However, if the patient has complex medical needs, lacks a caregiver or the caregiver is exhausted, the patient currently must be moved to a nursing home, hospital or an out-of-area hospice residence. Such a transfer comes during the most difficult time in their illness and often conflicts with the patient’s or family’s wishes to remain at home.”
Currently, CHPC is not able to provide in-home, 24-hour care for patients, and the nearest hospice residence is located in Warren, Pa.
Hospice staff and volunteers regularly visit patients to provide end-of-life care, but are not able to stay on hand full-time.
Local residents Liz Frederick and Eric Hall took notice of this gap in available care and came to Anderson with an idea. They wanted to know if it would be possible to establish a hospice house.
Frederick took inspiration from a recent experience with his neighbor, a patient of hospice care who had wandered from his home one day.
“My dear neighbor’s financial resources could not buy a caregiver on short notice when his illness overpowered him,” Frederick said. “The fright he experienced when he thought he would be transferred in his last days to the care of strangers and lose his beloved hospice nurse will always be with me.”
The CHPC board had considered a hospice house in the past, but the experience of Frederick and Hall was timely. Inspired by their story and similar ones, the board moved to establish a dedicated hospice house, in addition to procuring endowment and reserve funds for its operation.
To date, $1.1 million has been raised from donors and foundations, and the residence is expected to open next year.
The facility, which is located next to CHPC’s administrative offices on Fairmount Avenue in Lakewood, will include five patient rooms to accommodate the diverse medical needs of patients. CHPC expects to serve over 200 patients a year at the hospice residence.
Upgrades to the existing house will provide accommodations for out-of-town guests and a kitchen for meal preparations, and the facility will also have a peaceful outdoor space overlooking gardens.
“Room and board will be paid in full by Medicaid or private pay on a sliding scale, or with funds provided for the un-and under-insured through an existing fund at the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation,” Anderson said. “This will be a community asset available to everyone in the county and will make a difference in ways we don’t think about. At the end of life, family members need to be family– emotionally supportive companions, allowing time for reconciliation and growth. This would allow them not to become exhausted from the overwhelming stress of providing physical care as well.”
In addition to the efforts of Anderson and CHPC chairman Charles Rice, Bert and Mary Rappole have served as co-chairs on the campaign.
“When we received the call asking us to co-chair a capital campaign to open a hospice house, we both knew right away why this is needed and quickly agreed to lead the charge,” Bert and Mary said. “What we both knew is the comprehensive and skilled care that is already being provided by Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care did have a piece missing: frequently there are individuals with no family support or their care is too complex to be managed at home. A 24-hour, staffed hospice house is sorely needed in our community.”
Bert came to Jamestown in 1973 to open a surgical practice before there was any modern hospice care available to the community. Mary has worked for CHPC as an on-call registered nurse and as a nurse practitioner in both hospice and palliative care. Through their years of experience in healthcare, both have come to understand the importance of and need for such a facility.
Also taking part in the campaign are volunteers Gregory Noon, Carmen Hlosta, Ellen Luczkowiak, Kathie Cracium-Wright, Mary Jane Covley-Walker, Lori Thierfeldt, David Switala, Karen Goodell, Betsy Kidder and Karen Begier.
Community involvement will be needed in order to ensure the success of the hospice house, which will rely on the assistance of volunteers. Interested parties can reach the CHPC coordinator at 338-0033, and more information can be found at CHPC.care.
“The hospice program has been a valuable resource in our community for nearly 40 years,” said Dr. Patrick Collins, an early organizer of local hospice care. “I am very happy to see that they are now establishing a residence facility. This will provide a much-needed home-like location where people and their families can spend their last days together, if their care needs do not allow them to stay in their actual home when they are dying.”