Monday, November 14, 2005

Loved ones are remembered at the Tree of Lights: for many, a holiday tradition for 22 years

The first butterfly ornament to be placed on this year’s Hope Hospice Tree of Lights is in loving memory of the mother of Hope’s President, Samira K. Beckwith. Her mother was a hospice patient.

Since 1983, area residents have remembered and honored lost loved ones in a very special way during the holiday season. At the Hope Hospice Tree of Lights at Edison Mall, participants make a donation to Hope and receive a butterfly ornament, the symbol of hope and renewal, to place on the lighted tree.

“Many thousands of people, including myself, have participated over the years, and we return to the tree each year as we do our holiday shopping,” according Beckwith. She said that through this tradition, the community has helped Hope to fulfill its commitment to care for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. “For me and for many others, it’s a special way to remember and celebrate friends and loved ones who are no longer physically here but live forever in our hearts.”

The Tree of Lights event begins on the afternoon of Monday, November 21 and runs through December 24. The trees are located in Edison Mall, by Dillard’s, near Santa’s station. Beckwith thanked the management of Edison Mall, owned by Simon Property Group, for providing an excellent venue, alongside a steady stream of shoppers. “This space is a major contribution, and their support of Hope enables us to support the community,” she said.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Hope Honors and Serves Veterans and Their Families

For more than two decades, through times of war and peace, Hope Hospice has provided support and services to military personnel in Lee, Glades and Hendry Counties. Samira K. Beckwith, President and CEO, said, “Hope is committed to improving the quality of life for veterans, as they have improved the quality of our lives by protecting and defending our country and our values.”

Beckwith said Hope’s support has also extended to veterans’ families. “As we observe Veterans Day, we should also reach out to the families and friends of those who serve and those who have made the supreme sacrifice,” she said. “They have supported our men and women in uniform, and they deserve our support as well.” She added that providing emotional support to military families is a fitting tribute to all veterans.

Hope provides services to veterans facing end-of-life issues, regardless of their ability to pay, and can assist in identifying other resources to meet medical and other needs.

“We are honored to serve veterans as a way of saying thank you for serving us,” Beckwith said.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Awareness of end of life care services is important for everyone

In proclaiming November National Hospice Month, President Bush said, "The compassion reflected in hospice care is one of the reasons America has the best health care system in the world. By taking the time to care for others, they are making America a better place."

Last year, Hope Hospice helped to meet the medical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of more than 4,000 patients and their families in southwest Florida. Our patients range in age from newborn to more than 100 years old, with any type of life-limiting illness. As an example of our efforts to anticipate and meet every need, when we recently cared for a newborn, one of our art therapists created a beautifully designed print of the baby's hands and feet, as a treasured remembrance for the parents. In another instance, a woman in one of our Hope Hospice Houses wanted to see her daughter get married but was unable to travel. On very short notice, our care team arranged a beautiful wedding in our own chapel, led by one of our chaplains.

In 2004, we served well over half of everyone who was facing end-of-life issues. Although that figure is much higher than the national average, we cannot rest until everyone becomes aware of the help available at this critical time. Toward that end, we recently opened Joanne's House at Hope Hospice in Bonita Springs, a beautiful 24-bed care facility that enhances access to hospice services for everyone in southwest Florida.

An important part of our work involves helping people and other healthcare professionals to understand the value of hospice care services to patients and families. Hope uses an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals and specially trained volunteers to provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families. The earlier that a person at the end of life is referred to hospice, the more we can help in relieving their pain, easing their emotional stress, and helping the family to cope. There are many who are not yet aware of this, and they wait unnecessarily before seeking care.

Fortunately, we are seeing more and more people in our community looking for information about care at the end-of-life and advance care planning, well before they are faced with a health crisis. Hope is a resource for anyone in need of information about care options and ways to make sure their wishes are met should they face a serious or life-limiting illness.

Hope is working to make southwest Florida a better place by offering our services to everyone in need, and serving as a resource for making informed decisions about end-of-life care. Raising everyone's awareness of how we can help is our goal during National Hospice Month.