“Compassionate care with dignity and comfort for our community” – the hospice mission statement – is recited at the beginning of every Hospice of North Idaho board meeting. A staff member then shares a hospice story.
“For the board, the hospice story is an important way to see how our mission statement is put into action,” says Executive Director Paul Weil. “Compassionate care was at the heart of hospice when it began providing care 26 years ago.”
Hospice of North Idaho is a nonprofit organization that provides compassionate care to those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and to whom a cure is no longer an option. Hospice provides services to everyone regardless of ability to pay.
With more than 160 employees and caregiving volunteers, the hospice team has given care to thousands of patients and their loved ones in Kootenai, Benewah and Shoshone Counties.
“Hospice’s ability to grow and meet the end of life’s needs of the community relies on physician support, the dedicated work of hospice employees, volunteers and generous community donations,” says Weil.
Community donations have been garnered for 22 years from Hospice’s Winter Wine Taste and Auction. This year’s event will be held at the Hayden Lake Country Club, next Saturday.Tickets are $125 each.
“Many of our event volunteers have utilized hospice care for their loved ones and know first hand what a vital, unbelievable support hospice provides,” says 12-year volunteer and 2008 event chairman, Alison Pollard Gonsalves.
The 2007 event raised $118,874. This year’s goal is $125,000.
Weil says that the wine taste is unique because it is a community run and sponsored event with very little overhead costs. The wine taste committee consists of a group of volunteers who donate their time procuring auction items and organizing the event.
“There are even several hospice employees who volunteer their services for the event,” says Weil. “The community donates all the food, wine, beverages and auction items.”
According to Weil, a significant amount of the fundraising income is used to cover the costs of hospice’s charitable and public services. “Our bereavement program has been able to develop multiple support programs, including a grief program for youth thanks to the generosity of our community,” says Weil.
Another use of fundraising income is for hospice’s new community palliative care program. Palliative care services offer support services to patients with a terminal illness who are not receiving hospice care.
Weil says it is not uncommon that many patients with a terminal illness never receive the support of hospice care for more than seven days or not at all.
“We often hear from family members – whose loved ones did not receive hospice care – that both the patient and family felt physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted and alone after caring for their loved one without adequate support,” says Weil.
The services of the palliative care program are not as extensive as hospice’s services but aid in improving patient outcomes and psycho-social-spiritual well-being. Services include professional assistance with patient needs; disease education; advance care planning and professional assistance with complex pain and symptom management; counseling; and coordination of community support services.
Palliative care services do not replace the services of a primary physician, but complement the physician’s care when comfort, counseling and quality of life become increasingly more challenging.
The hospice team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Last year hospice provided 2,300 days of free care which equates to approximately $200,000 of free services.