To the Editor:
They come into lives as a last, new best friend, and we entrust our final days to them.
They have the wisdom of sages and the hearts of angels — they are the nurses, social workers, chaplains, and nursing aides who provide hospice care.
November is National Hospice Month. We at Regional Hospice and Palliative Care (RHPC) celebrate this designation, because it means that our country recognizes the importance of hospice care and the difference that specially trained hospice caregivers can make in families’ lives.
Hospice’s caregivers and volunteers possess so much more beyond their credentials: They have a unique calling, a vocation to fill patients’ and families’ lives with joy, dignity, and meaning that come from boundless empathy, compassion, and clinical excellence.
They help a mother spending her final days at home to put words on paper for her young child to read in years to come. They bring a recluse together with people who have fallen away from his life. At our Center for Comfort Care & Healing, they are found offering trays of a patient’s favorite cookies and rehashing a World Series Game, hosting a tea party with costumes for a little princess with a rare cancer, or honoring Wold War II heroes with medallions and a salute from the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs — hospice caregivers and volunteers make important, joyful moments a part of life — because they mean the world to a patient, whose quality of life means the world to them.
Hospice care provides comfort and support to patients with life-limiting illness and their families. The phrase “and their families” is a pivotal distinction between hospice and all other types of home and inpatient, end-of-life care. Beginning in January 2018, Regional Hospice and Palliative Care will dedicate many of our activities to raising awareness of our pediatric hospice program and our dedicated staff of certified pediatric hospice professionals and volunteers. Particularly when the patient is a child and the shocking illness overwhelms parents and confounds siblings, hospice caregivers support families and empower young patients and their loved ones to enjoy meaningful time together and create memories that will be cherished forever. Hospice care is clinical excellence combined with whimsy and heart — an incomparable combination of talents, but what every patient and family deserve.
I hope you will take a minute to thank a hospice caregiver or volunteer. They are truly a gift to all of us; a last new friend whose profound compassion makes life even more precious for our patients and the people who love them. It is an honor and a privilege to care for our families, to work among our caregivers, hear their stories, and meet families whose lives they impact so deeply.
Cynthia Emiry Roy, MS, LCSW, CHA
President & CEO
Regional Hospice and Palliative Care
Center for Comfort Care & Healing
30 Milestone Road, Danbury November 20, 2017