Monday, December 15, 2003

Hope Hospice Joins Nation's Largest Study of Massage Therapy

Hope Hospice has been selected to participate in a study to determine if moving touch therapy, also known as massage therapy, reduces the burden of symptoms of patients in advanced stages of cancer. The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.2 million grant to the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to conduct the study.

The researchers anticipate that the three-year study, the largest of its kind ever done, will demonstrate that massage therapy decreases pain, improves quality of life and reduces physical and emotional symptom distress among patients with advanced cancer. Nationwide, 440 patients will be enrolled in the clinical trial, including patients at Hope and eleven other hospices.

“Hope Hospice has offered massage therapy to our patients for years, and the feedback has been positive, even during advanced stages of illness,” said Samira K. Beckwith, Hope Hospice President and CEO. “We expect the data from this study to confirm that those who receive massage therapy will experience a better quality of life and enhanced comfort during end of life care.”

Beckwith said that in addition to satisfying the need for nurturing touch, the benefits of massage therapy include increased flow of oxygen to the tissue and the release of endorphin, the body’s natural painkiller.

Proponents believe that with massage therapy, advanced cancer patients do not suffer from the side effects their medications can cause. The medications are used to treat pain, fatigue and decreased appetite.

If the nationwide study confirms that patients do experience a better quality of life with massage therapy, it could become a standard component of patient care.

Monday, December 1, 2003

Hearts of Hope Gala Committee Prepares for Hospice Capital Campaign

More than 100 people recently attended a Hope Hospice Hearts of Hope Gala Committee tea at the home of Mrs. John Foley in Bonita Springs.

The committee is preparing for the 2004 Hope Hospice Capital Campaign that will help build Joanne's House, a new Hope Hospice house in Bonita Springs.

Last year the Gala Committee raised a total of $100,000 for Hope Hospice. The 2004 Gala will be held Saturday, Feb. 14. The event will include a charity auction with items such as a two-week trip to Vail, Colorado, a dinner party for 12 and an electric car from Chrysler.

Corporate tables at the Hearts of Hope Gala are: $2,500. Benefactor' tickets are $300 each and patron tickets are $200. Heart of Gold sponsorships are $5,000.

According to Hope Hospice President and CEO Samira Beckwith, "This is the big social event of the season and it is of tremendous benefit to Hope Hospice and the community we serve."

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Samira K. Beckwith Named National Director for NHPCO

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope Hospice, based in Fort Myers, Fla., as been elected to the position of National Director of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), based in Alexandria, Virginia. NHPCO is the oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs in the United States.

“NHPCO is committed to improving care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for everyone facing end-of-life issues,” Beckwith said. “Hope Hospice in southwest Florida has shared that same commitment for more than 20 years, so I am excited about contributing on a national level.”

During her three-year term as an NHPCO National Director, Beckwith will focus on public policy, education, diversity, cultural issues and better access to care. “Our greatest challenge for the future is making the ‘right’ decisions in the midst of a rapidly changing healthcare environment,” she said.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Rabbi Harold Kushner's Special Message for National Hospice Month

Rabbi Harold S. Kushner speaks with a quiet, thoughtful authority on matters that affect the deepest parts of the human spirit. On November 18, the public will have a rare chance to hear his inspirational message in person.

Kushner, author of international, award-winning best sellers, and a highly sought-after motivational speaker, will share his thoughts at 7 p.m. at the Harborside Event Center. The evening is sponsored by Hope Hospice and Palliative Care.

"This free presentation by Rabbi Kushner is our gift to the community," said Hope Hospice President and CEO, Samira K. Beckwith. "The people of southwest Florida have been very good to us, with their gifts and their time, so this is our way of saying thank you."

Kushner, 68, said by telephone from Los Angeles where he is on a book tour that he looks forward to returning to Fort Myers. He has twice vacationed in the area. and spent his 35th anniversary on Sanibel.

"I will be talking about my book, "Living a Life that Matters, Resolving the Conflict Between Conscience and Success," and tie that into my new book, "The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm," he said. Those books, plus his 1981 landmark spiritual classic, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," can be thought of, in part, as guidelines to living the best possible lives, so that at the end we can face death with the least amount of regret.

Kushner said one of the best things about hospice care is, "When you are in the valley of the shadow of death you are not alone. That's the wonderful thing about hospice, you are not alone - and if I can be so bold, I believe hospice workers are incarnations of God."

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened," Kushner said. Those at the end of their lives in hospice sometimes have a chance to make amends for damage they've done to family or friends. Kushner spoke to how a person can live so that at their death they can die without overwhelming fear, frustration, regret or guilt.

"Hospice encourages people to take care of unfinished business, to reconcile, to say goodbye, to thank those they need to thank. Secondly, when you look back on your life you realize even if haven't done everything perfectly, you've probably done some things well. With little effort you can probably remember that you have made suggestions or done small acts of kindness that have changed someone else's life."

Kushner also spoke about the importance of making the right moral choices. "Humans need to know their lives have had an impact on the world around us. It's tempting to compromise our moral standards in order to achieve some sense of importance," Kushner said.

"We have a craving for significance, the need to know that our lives and our choices mean something. We sometimes do great things, and sometimes terrible things to reassure ourselves that we matter to the world. We sometimes confuse fame, power, and wealth with true achievement. But finally we need to think of ourselves as good people, and we are troubled when we compromise our integrity in the pursuit of what we think of as success.

 "The Talmud says, 'to repent one day before your death.' That means to keep in shape every day. The rule would be to live in such a way that if something happened tomorrow you would die with a minimum of regret."

Beckwith said Kushner's presentation is the keynote event for National Hospice Month, which is each November. It was Beckwith's idea to bring Kushner to Fort Myers. She said she had originally met the rabbi when he was speaking in North Dakota years ago.

"What a wonderful message he gave in 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People.' It was one of the most read and well-utilized pieces of advice. The title says it all. People say, 'why me, poor me' because Americans only think death is optional. If you do the right thing, eat the right food, you can somehow bargain and nothing bad will ever happen to us or those we love. Then it's a shock when life happens."

In her professional life Beckwith recommends the book, and even keeps copies on hand to hand out.

"I utilize the advice and share the advice all the time for families and situations. That's one of the great joys in working in hospice, to help them focus on what you can do, not on what you can't do."

"I wanted to invite Rabbi Kushner to this community for the last few years. I saw him on Larry King Live a few months ago, but I actually started worked on getting on his calendar a year ago."

"This is right before the holidays, when it's difficult for people who have experienced loss. This is a perfect time for Rabbi Kushner to speak to us because he is so helpful and his message and presence is so helpful to people."

Harborside Event Center, in downtown Fort Myers, has a capacity of 3,000.

"We wanted one central, convenient location, and thought with that large capacity we didn't have to have the event for only a chosen few," Beckwith said.

Kushner will be available to sign The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm, which will be for sale at the venue.

What: Speaking engagement
When: Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Harbourside Event Center
Sponsor: Hope Hospice

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Hope Chest Grand Opening

A brief grand opening ceremony will be at 10 a.m. for the new Hope Hospice resale store in North Fort Myers, with representatives of the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce attending.

In addition to designer clothing for women, the store offers furniture, home decor, kitchenware, artwork, books, antiques, jewelry and more. Proceeds benefit Hope Hospice patients and their families, and all donated items are tax deductible. Hope Chest, 13821 N. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Bill Wilhelm's Art Collection is Close to His Heart

Bill Wilhelm is painting his heart out in memory of others. Wilhelm, 85, a part-time Fort Myers resident, has a collection of work on display at Gulf Harbour Jewelers in Fort Myers.

The paintings in "The Callepitar Collection" are for sale and benefit Hope Hospice, a nonprofit organization near and dear to Wilhelm's heart.

"Hope Hospice played a very important part in my life when I lost my second wife," Wilhelm said. “And so I decided I would have this art exhibit to benefit them."

Wilhelm's second wife, Peggie, died of lung cancer on New Year's Day in 2002. The collection is dedicated to Peggie, his two granddaughters and his daughter, Nan Wilhelm.

The collection is affectionately named for the way one of his granddaughters, Emily Harrison, would pronounce the word "caterpillar." Emily died of leukemia in 1986 at the age of 5 years.

"This is all about the death of a child,'' Wilhelm said. "She fell in love with caterpillars and unfortunately we were not able to get her to say caterpillar; she would always say callepitar."

The fund-raiser features 15 acrylic and oil paintings of still lifes, landscapes, portraits and more. Wilhelm began painting about 50 years ago and was encouraged by his father, who was a sign painter. His works have been exhibited at the Boston Arts Festival, Coral Gables, Indiana public library system and other venues across the country.

"November is National Hospice Month, and we are honored that Bill has chosen this time to offer his beautiful work to the public on our behalf,'' said Samira Beckwith, Hope President and CEO. “The proceeds will better enable us to provide compassionate care to everyone in need or our services, regardless of their ability to pay."

Also offered are signed, bound copies of his 90-piece collection, which doubles as a coffee table book.

Saturday, November 1, 2003

National Hospice Month 2003

November is celebrated all over the country as National Hospice Month. The local Hope Hospice & Palliative Care is sponsoring/hosting several events as part of this celebration.

Internationally known writer to speak On Nov. 18
Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of international best-sellers and award-winning inspirational and motivational books, will make a free presentation to the public at 7 p.m. at the Harborside Event Center. Kushner's presentation will focus on his latest best-seller, The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm. The book will be available for purchase and the rabbi will sign books after the event.

"This presentation by Rabbi Kushner is our gift to the community," said Hope Hospice president and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. "The people of Southwest Florida have been very good to us with both their gifts and their time... This is our way of saying thank you."

Kushner's presentation is the keynote event for the month.

Sanctuary Tennis Tournament in Sanibel
As another of the month's signature events, the Sanctuary Golf Club will host the Hope Hospice Tennis Challenge on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 22 & 23. This is a bracketed men's and women's doubles tournament; the format will be single elimination with consolation rounds. Deadline for entry is Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. and the entry fee is $50 per person (payable to Hope Hospice).

For additional information, call Christie Bradley at 472-5276. Tournament play begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Entry fee includes continental breakfast and lunch on both Saturday and Sunday and a goodie bag for each player. Bracket winners and finalists, as well as consolation winners will receive awards designed by Luc Century.

Sponsorship Opportunities

  • Tournament Sponsors ($1,000) will be listed as such at the top of the sponsor's board and appear prominently on the back of the T-shirt and in all press releases.
  • Court Sponsors ($500) will be so designated on the sponsor's board, have their names in all press releases, and be listed on the T-shirt
  • Match Sponsors ($250) will be displayed as a Match Sponsor on the board, listed on the back of the shirt, and named in the program.
  • Set Sponsors ($100) will appear on the shirt and in the program. 
  • All sponsors will receive a Luc Century original, and sponsors and donors will be listed in Wings of Hope, the Hope Hospice newsletter. Contributions of any amount in support of this event are always appreciated. 

Artwork to benefit Hope Hospice
Also in recognition of National Hospice Month, Gulf Harbour Jewelers on McGregor in Fort Myers is exhibiting 15 acrylic and oil paintings by part-time Fort Myers resident Bill Wilhelm. There are still-lifes, landscapes and portraits among other subjects.

Entitled The Callepitar Collection, the sale of any of the works will benefit Hope Hospice, an organization the 85-year-old Wilhelm truly appreciates and supports. His wife died of lung cancer on New Year's Day, 2002, under the care of Hope Hospice and the collection is dedicated to her, to his two grandaughters and to his daughter. It is named for the way one of the granddaughters pronounced "caterpillar" ... before she died at age 5 and a half of leukemia. Also available are signed bound copies of Wilhelm's 90-piece collection.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Hope Hospice Accredited for High Standards of Excellence

The Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), the national leader in improving the quality of care in the home care industry, has granted Accreditation to Hope Hospice. The Accreditation comes after an exhaustive review of every aspect of Hope’s operations, policies and procedures.

One of CHAP’s primary objectives is to enable hospices and other health care organizations to develop and maintain state-of-the art national standards of excellence. A CHAP team member said that it was “extremely rare” for an organization to score as well as Hope Hospice did on the initial CHAP assessment. According to the CHAP report, “The organization is commended for fostering a corporate climate of innovation and direction for the future.”

“We are proud to receive this professional verification of the high standards we adhere to,” said Samira K. Beckwith, Hope Hospice President and CEO. “This accreditation acknowledges our commitment to providing the best possible care to the people we serve.” The CHAP report listed several organizational strengths:

- High employee morale and job satisfaction contribute to a positive work environment.
- Experienced management team and Board of Directors who are committed to quality care, standards of excellence and the development of their innovative World Class Performance Program, all of which are integral in addressing the palliative care needs of communities served.
- Collaboration with the educational community to increase students’ awareness of palliative care opportunities.
- Bereavement outreach extends beyond hospice families to the entire community.

The CHAP Accreditation is in effect for three years. For more information about CHAP, visit

Friday, October 17, 2003

Communication important in planning end of life by Samira K. Beckwith

Recently someone said to me, "If I ever know of anyone in the final stages of life, I'll tell them I about Hope Hospice." My response was, "Is 'if really the right word?"

Over the past two decades at Hope Hospice, we've seen that people often don't know a great deal about accessing end-of- life care, and, as you might expect, they don't want to even think about it. A study conducted for the National Hospice Foundation found that Americans are more likely to talk to their children about drugs and sex than to talk to their elderly parents about life-limiting illness.

Although Americans may expect quality care in the final stages of life, we are too uncomfortable about the subject to even discuss it with our closest family members. Lack of communication leaves people unprepared for the .physical and emotional strains caused by life-limiting illness, but there are choices in end-of-life care, and through frank, open conununication, families can plan to spend their final time together in peace and comfort.

November is National Hospice Month, and becoming familiar with care and bereavement counseling at IIope Hospice at this time will benefit everyone, patients and families, when facing end-of-life issues. In Southwest Florida, Hope Hospice's services are provided to about 700 people a day by Hope Hospice ("Hope," as we know it), a not-for-profit health care agency serving people of all ages. Services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many insurances. Hope Hospice provides services regardless of a patient's ability to pay. We rely on grants and conununity support to fund services for patients with little or no insurance.

So what does Hope Hospice's care have to offer that can really help? How does Hope make a difference? Hope Hospice care provides patients and their families with the things they truly want and need. It starts with embracing the individual as a person, not the "patient" that the system may try to make them in order to fit them into protocols and standard operating procedures.

Hope Hospice care includes emotional and spiritual support for the person and the family, pain control tailored to the person's wishes and the choice for the person to spend their time wherever they call home. In fact, Hope Hospice is more than a place. It is a concept of care that treats the person, not the disease, and emphasizes the quality of life, not the duration.

The Hope Hospice team of caregivers works with patients and their families to develop individualized plans of care that are designed to ease the patient's physical and emotional pain. Hope Hospice caregivers provide emotional support to the patient and their family during the most difficult time of their lives so that they can "put their lives in order" and make the last stage in life even more meaningful.

Hope Hospice providers are dedicated to the notion that the end of life is one of life's stages and that it should be lived fully and peacefully with the support of friends and family.

 Hope Hospice provides all of the things that our patients need most: freedom from pain, emotional and spiritual support and the ability to control the direction of their own care.

Only by embracing the importance of discussing the final stage of life decisions can we improve care for the dying in America. Families must be encouraged to freely discuss the type of care they would like to receive during a life-limiting illness because choices do exist.

As the concept of Hope Hospice proves, people do not need to live out their lives in pain or in fear. Only by discussing and learning about our choices can we truly receive the type of care we want and deserve.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Samira K. Beckwith Receives Credentials from American Academy of Pain Management

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, has been awarded a Fellow credential in Pain Management by the American Academy of Pain Management.

The American Academy of Pain Management is the largest multidisciplinary society of pain management professionals. Credentialing by the Academy requires successful passage of an examination, specific experience in pain management, adherence to the Patient Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics as well as other stringent criteria.

“At Hope Hospice, our highest priority is to provide comfort to our patients,” Beckwith said. “Expertise in pain management is a benefit to those we serve every day. I’m honored to reach this academic level and will continue to work for even greater improvements in patient care.”

Friday, September 19, 2003

Hope Hospice Wins Horizon Award

Four local companies were recognized during the 2003 Industry Appreciation Week Luncheon today at the Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers. The companies were selected to receive this prestigious award based on their exceptional level of leadership, innovation, investment and community involvement in southwest Florida. Sponsored by the Horizon Council, Lee County’s economic advisory board, the event recognized the following 2003 Industry Appreciation Award winners:

Hope Hospice and Palliative Care
This not-for-profit, community-based health care agency has served people of all ages facing end of life issues for more than 20 years. Over the past five years, it has expanded its services in Lee County to embrace Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Boca Grande, and additional areas of North Fort Myers. The agency conducts customer surveys that are used by its improvement team to continually affect positive change. It has grown to nearly 400 employees, doubling its staff over the past five years. Special benefits to employees include continuing education, stress management, frequent social events and more. The agency’s summer internships, mentoring programs, in-depth two-day orientation programs, and strong ties to local colleges, all ensure the development of a steady, reliable workforce in Lee County. Grateful to benefit from community donations and the efforts of more than 700 volunteers, Hope Hospice and its employees participate in numerous volunteer efforts that give back to the community.

The Horizon Council is a public-private group that works toward improving the business environment in Lee County, retaining and encouraging the expansion of existing businesses, and attracting new and diversified employment to the area. The Industry Appreciation Week Luncheon is one of the Horizon Council’s major events each year.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Hope Hospice Wins National Award for Quality

Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, serving southwest Florida, has been recognized by the American Pharmacists Association Foundation for its innovative and visionary approach in delivering a consistently high level of care to its patients.

Each year, the Foundation recognizes leading health care organizations in the US for significant scientific contributions and exemplary leadership in the improvement of quality in the use of patient medication. The recipients are recognized for pioneering innovative ways to improve the medication use process and increase communication between all members of the health care team.

“Not only is this a great honor, it is a fitting tribute to the work of our entire Hope Hospice and Palliative Care team,” said Samira Beckwith, Hope Hospice president and CEO. “The Pinnacle Award validates the positive responses we’ve received from so many of our patients and their families during our more than twenty years of service, as we continuously work to provide the best care possible.”

Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, one of the top twenty stand-alone hospice programs in the US, has created, implemented and maintained a Collaborative Practice Medication Management System to manage medication therapy. It involves pharmacists, Hope Hospice nurses, Hope Hospice physicians, many independent referring physicians, and independent clinical pharmacy and medication distribution systems tied together by web based documentation and communication tools. “Using integrated, state of the art technology that enables professionals from different disciplines to participate in a patient’s care and make informed decisions based on current information, Hope Hospice delivers an unparalleled level of quality of care to its patients,” according to the Award citation.

The system includes interdisciplinary care, clear and defined responsibilities, timely and accessible documentation, and informed decision-making. It can be emulated by other hospices to improve the quality of life of patients by ensuring optimal care. “Through this innovative and visionary approach to medication therapy, Hope Hospice and Palliative Care is able to deliver a consistently high level of care to its patients,” according to the Foundation. The award will be presented at a ceremony in Washington on June 17.

The American Pharmacists Association Foundation, in Washington, DC, is affiliated with the American Pharmacists Association, the national professional society of pharmacists. The Pinnacle Awards, recognizing contributions to health care quality through the medication use process, were established in 1997 by the American Pharmacists Association. The purpose of the award is to recognize pioneering individuals and groups for their contributions and for their exemplary leadership in medication use quality improvement. For more information:

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Certification for Bonita Springs Hospice Received, Building Campaign Set to Begin

Hope Hospice and Palliative Care will soon begin a building fund campaign for a new facility in Bonita Springs.

On February 28, 2003, the state of Florida granted a Certificate of Need to the organization. The Certificate of Need, a regulatory approval for new or expanded healthcare services, allows Hope Hospice to open the inpatient facility.

“Receiving the Certificate of Need is the first step in providing a state-of-the-art, end of life care facility for people in south Lee County,” said Samira Beckwith, President and CEO. Formal planning for the new facility is nearing completion; a site for the house has yet to be determined. The building will encompass approximately 52,000 square feet - accommodating 24 beds, 16 for critical care and 8 for residential services.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Governor Bush Appoints Hope Hospice CEO to Advisory Council

Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Samira K. Beckwith, President and CEO of Hope Hospice, to an advisory council for the new Office of Long-Term Care Policy. The Office, created in September 2002, will coordinate all state agencies' policies on long-term care issues, with an emphasis on providing more elders with services that enhance their quality of life.

“The Office will focus on providing the most cost-effective, community-based services for Florida's elderly. These services will range from caregiver support to placement in assisted living facilities,” Governor Bush said.

 A leader and visionary in the field of end-of-life care, Ms. Beckwith continues to provide leadership for the hospice movement at both local and national levels. She has held a number of leadership positions with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) since 1983, and most recently was elected to serve another term on the Board of Directors.

Monday, March 3, 2003

State of Florida Approves Certification for Bonita Springs Hospice

On Friday, February 28, 2003, the state of Florida granted a Certificate of Need to Hope Hospice and Palliative Care. This Certificate of Need, a regulatory approval for new or expanded healthcare services, will allow Hope Hospice to open an inpatient facility in the Bonita Springs area.

“Receiving the Certificate of Need is the first step in providing a state-of-the-art, end of life care facility for people in south Lee County,” said Samira Beckwith, President and CEO. Formal planning for a Hospice House in Bonita Springs is nearing completion; a site for the house has yet to be determined.

The building will encompass approximately 52,000 square feet- accommodating 24 beds, 16 for critical care and 8 for residential services. A capital campaign is planned to defray construction expenses.

Hope Hospice currently has offices in Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, Buckhead Ridge, Clewiston, and Bonita Springs, and two inpatient facilities in Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Minnesota Twins and Gator Lanes Team Up For Hope Hospice

The Minnesota Twins are busy. Having been named Major League Baseball’s top organization by Sportsticker, Baseball America, and USA Today, the Twins are widely expected to lead the ALC division in 2003.

Despite their rigorous spring training schedule, the Twins are calling a time-out for charity. On Saturday, March 8, the same day as they face the Baltimore Orioles, the Minnesota Twins players and coaches will challenge the public to a charity bowling event.

 The challenge will begin at 4:00 pm at Gator Lanes, 7050 Crystal Drive in Fort Myers. The cost of participating is $12.00, which includes the use of bowling shoes, and one game of bowling with a select Twins player or coach.