Monday, December 16, 2013

Toast to Hope event raises more than $30,000 for Hope HealthCare Services

Friends, family and supporters of Hope HealthCare Services recently gathered for the 3rd annual Toast to Hope event at the Tarpon Landings at Tarpon Point Marina.

The event, hosted by Marianne Dodge and the Toast to Hope Committee, raised more than $30,000 to benefit Hope Hospice of Cape Coral and the Tribute Gardens.

The gardens offer the chance for families to take their loved one out of their hospice room and enjoy the solace and beauty of the outdoors. One of the newest additions to the Tribute Gardens - the Hope Labyrinth - features a stone path and waist-high plantings that lead visitors into the center and back out again. The labyrinth – which is often visited by churches, school children and other community groups - provides a gently meandering pathway and serene setting for quiet reflection and meditation.

In addition to Dodge, the Toast to Hope committee includes notable Cape community leaders Judi Brink, Joann Elardo, Diane Everhart, Therese Everly, Marilyn Kistler, Cheryl Komnick, Leslie Koon, Jacque Miloff, Barbara Rosen, Stephen Slosburg, Judy Sowers, Gloria Tate, Barbara Vesey and Jacque Wier.

Stories of Hope and Healing for Veterans and their Families

Author, educator and retired nurse practitioner Deborah Grassman will present “Peace at Last: Stories of Hope and Healing for Veterans and their Families” during a professional education program that is also open to the public.

Grassman will speak from 30 years of experience at the Bay Pines VA in St. Petersburg, including forgiveness and guilt issues, recovering from wartime experiences, and validating contributions made by women veterans, among other topics.

Faith leaders, health care professionals, therapists, volunteers, caregivers and those caring or interested in caring for veterans are invited to attend, with professionals earning 1.5 contact hours. Hope HealthCare Services is presenting the program, with support from the Fort Myers Ministerial Association, 21st Century C.A.R.E., Hodges & Coral Ridge Funeral Homes and Cemeteries and the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center.

Wednesday, Jan. 15
Registration, networking: 10:30 -11a.m.
Lunch: 11 a.m. Lecture: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
The Church of the Resurrection of Our Lord
8121 Cypress Lake Rd. Fort Myers, FL 33919

Certificate of attendance $10; contact hours $15

Call 239-938-9301 to register by Jan. 8. Seating is limited.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Coping with the Holidays - After a Loss

The holidays can be a special, yet difficult time for those who have lost a loved one. These treasured days are times of joy for most people. But when you have had a death in the family, they can be a time when the lights, laughter and joy of the season are in great contrast to your own sad feelings. What can you do to deal with these special times of the year?

1. Plan Ahead 
If you think these will be difficult days, plan ahead in detail for them. Create a plan - even a back up plan.

2. Have Reasonable Expectations 
Rather than assuming these times will be terrible, remember that few things in life are all bad or all good. What has been a joyful time in the past may still retain positive aspects. Don't jump to the conclusion that it will be terrible. You can't really foresee the future. Instead, you may want to reduce the demands on you by giving yourself permission to not do as much as you did in the past in terms of entertaining, party-going, gift buying, card sending and decorating. People will understand.

3. Watch Your Thinking 
Avoid thinking an activity or day has to be all good or else it is a failure. Don't discount the positive experiences and feelings you have. Your loved one would want the best for you. Don't magnify the negative and minimize the positive in your life. Be realistic in your thinking. Acknowledge the positive. Avoid creating lots of "shoulds" and "oughts" and then "beating yourself up" when you are overly critical of yourself thinking you didn't measure up. We tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else.

4. Tell Others Your Preferences 
Other will want to know how they should treat you. Tell them what you prefer. It helps them, and it helps you. Let them know if you want them to speak of the deceased. Let them know if you want the family to come to your house or, if this year, you want the gathering to be at someone else's house.

5. Give Yourself Permission 
Allow yourself to try to do what you want but give yourself permission to step back if it's too difficult for you. For example, you may tell a friend you will come to their party but you may wish to leave early or excuse yourself if it becomes overwhelming. They will understand and not be offended if you leave early. This allows you to try, but to back away based on your needs. It's usually better than staying home alone.

6. Adjust Rituals 
Some people will want to repeat all the usual activities and rituals. Give yourself permission to change at the last moment if it is too difficult. Others may choose to go out of town to visit or do something entirely different. This may be shared with family members in advance so they know the plans. You may want to make a special gift to charity in remembrance of your loved one, plant a tree, or create a special act in your own home. The important thing is to do what makes sense and feels appropriate for you.

7. Greeting Cards 
Sometimes the arrival of greeting cards addressed to the deceased can catch us off guard. Telephone calls can also surprise us. It is okay to cry. You will be able to cope.

8. Time Together/ Time Apart
Special occasions can be difficult or they may be a source of great comfort and renewed joy. You may want to plan your holiday schedule so you have time with other people and time by yourself. We need both. We must find the balance that works best.

9. Children/Family 
If there are children in the family you may choose to decorate and celebrate for their sake. Involve them in deciding what you as a family will do this year. Give them permission to be happy as well as to grieve. Encourage them to join you in creating a memorial for your loved one.

10. Support is Available Through Hope
Our bereavement counselors are available to help you cope with the holidays in the way that works best for you. Consider attending a support group near you. You may also call 239-382-4673 and ask to speak with a counselor.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mirage Boutique Holiday Open House to benefit Hope PACE

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease: Special Webinar Viewings

Dr. Michael S. Okun, Director of the University of Florida’s Center for Movement Disorders, will discuss his new bestselling book “Parkinson’s Treatment - 10 Secrets to a Happier Life.”

Dr. Okun is considered a world authority on Parkinson’s and aims to help patients live well with the disease.

Hope will be hosting community viewing events for Dr. Okun’s webinar at our Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs and Lehigh Acres offices. Reservations are required; call Michelle Martin at 239-985-7727 to save your seat.

All Locations
December 5 from 1:00-2:00 p.m.

For other Hope Parkinson Program events, please visit

Monday, November 4, 2013

Samira Beckwith to appear on national TV program about hospice

Be sure to watch Samira on RLTV – Retirement Living TV - (Comcast Channel 257) on November 7 at 9 p.m.  She is a featured expert on a one hour special entitled:  Hospice: Something More


RLTV, the only cable network and online destination for Generation 50+, tackles the timely, important topic of end-of-life care with a one-hour special program, Hospice: Something More, premiering November 7, 2013 at 9 PM ET. Produced in partnership with Hospice Foundation of America, this unique, emotionally resonant program introduces viewers to hospice patients, their caretakers, and the professionals who care for and help provide quality of life.

“Although people generally are uncomfortable discussing death and dying, we believe this program will demonstrate how hospice is about living well when time is limited,” said Hospice Foundation of America President and CEO Amy S. Tucci.

Hosted by former CNN anchor Frank Sesno, who was inspired by his own mother’s experience with hospice, the special weaves riveting, first-person accounts with informative commentary and discussion by recognized experts who provide care to hospice patients every day.

Hospice: Something More creates an open dialogue with our viewers and empowers them with information to cope during this challenging life experience,” said RLTV Senior Vice President of Programming and Production Elliot Jacobson.

Hospice: Something More coincides with National Hospice Month and National Caregiver Month.

Additional Air Dates

  • Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:00 PM 
  • Thursday, November 07, 2013 12:00 AM 
  • Friday, November 08, 2013 10:00 AM 
  • Saturday, November 09, 2013 11:00 AM 
  • Sunday, November 10, 2013 8:00 AM 
  • Tuesday, November 12, 2013 1:00 PM 
  • Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:00 PM 
  • Saturday, November 16, 2013 11:00 AM 
  • Sunday, November 17, 2013 10:00 PM 
  • Sunday, November 17, 2013 1:00 AM 
  • Tuesday, November 19, 2013 6:00 AM 
  • Wednesday, November 20, 2013 3:00 PM 
  • Friday, November 22, 2013 7:00 PM 
  • Saturday, November 23, 2013 7:00 AM 
  • Monday, November 25, 2013 10:00 AM 
  • Friday, November 29, 2013 5:00 PM 
  • Sunday, December 01, 2013 6:00 AM 
  • Monday, December 02, 2013 7:00 PM 
  • Thursday, December 05, 2013 9:00 PM 
  • Thursday, December 05, 2013 12:00 AM 
  • Friday, December 06, 2013 10:00 AM 
  • Sunday, December 08, 2013 11:00 AM 
  • Monday, December 09, 2013 7:00 AM 
  • Wednesday, December 11, 2013 1:00 PM 
  • Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:00 PM 
  • Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:00 AM 
  • Saturday, December 14, 2013 1:00 PM 
  • Thursday, December 19, 2013 11:00 AM 
  • Saturday, December 21, 2013 11:00 AM

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Futile Treatment in the ICU

According to a recent JAMA Internal Medicine report, nearly 20% of intensive care unit patients are receiving treatment that is futile or probably futile. Among those who received futile care, 68% died while hospitalized.

Futile treatment may be defined as interventions that prolong life without achieving an effect that the patient can appreciate as a benefit.

Why are futile treatments given to patients?
Possible reasons may include lack of agreement from the family, lack of agreement within the clinical team or the failure of doctors to talk about end-of-life issues.

What can you do to avoid futile treatments for yourself or a loved one?
Speak early and often about issues that concern you, as well as your values and preferences. Ask for the help of expert consultants, such as palliative care doctors or an ethics committee. Discuss which treatment options fit your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra time to speak with a physician.

Before a healthcare crisis, put your wishes in writing. Ask us for a copy of Five Wishes, to establish advance directives in the event that you are no longer able to speak for yourself.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Well Read gift shop benefits Hope Hospice

The idea of a one-night benefit for Hope Hospice turned into something bigger with Robin Currier involved. Well Read, a seasonal clothier and gift shop featuring unique items dedicated to the love of literature, is her new vision of a way to help.

The boutique will be open throughout November at Bell Tower Shops, with a portion of each sale - from both the store and online - being donated to benefit the Pet Peace of Mind program at Hope Hospice.

Pet Peace of Mind helps individuals who are facing a life-limiting illness to remain close to their beloved pets. Often considered members of the family, these pets are lovingly cared for by Hope volunteers, who feed and walk the pets and ensure they remain clean and healthy - and by their owner’s side.

“I was truly inspired by what Hope Hospice does with the pets of their patients,” Currier said. “These animals provide unconditional love and companionship when a seriously ill person needs it most. I loved the program and felt I simply had to find a way to help. Well Read gives me that opportunity.”

Currier has blended her passions for literature and fashion by creating a line of men’s neckties and T-shirts based on classic works such as Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre, Humpty Dumpty and many more. Some of the designs are literal while others are more abstract, Currier said. Well Read will also carry leggings, dresses and accessories for women and children.

 In addition to Currier's original artwork, the innovative packaging is created to provide a playful answer to holiday shopping needs. Currier said she loves packaging, and her first venture into the fashion industry was men’s neckties packaged in hardbound book boxes. Well Read items are geared toward children and adults – a romper for the boy and a matching T-shirt for dad, for example.

Well Read will be staffed by volunteers and carry Currier’s business model, which is grounded in service and giving back to the Fort Myers community where she was born and raised. Currier said Bell Tower is incredibly supportive by offering an empty store to lease for the month.

 “We think what Robin is doing for our Pet Peace of Mind program is marvelous,” Hope HealthCare Services CEO Samira K. Beckwith said. “For many in our care, pets are considered part of the family and bring so much joy, which is why we created the program. We also help ensure that these treasured pets find a loving, adoptive home.”

 “I am impressed with Hope Hospice,” Currier said. “They always think outside the box."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Senator Lizbeth Benaquisto with Hope President & CEO Samira K. Beckwith and NBC-2 news anchor Krista Fogelsong at American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk at Tanger Outlets on October 19, 2013.

Samira Beckwith was the honorary survivor chair of this special event.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hope PACE Medical Director: Sheeja Ann Kanacheril

Hope HealthCare Services has appointed Sheeja Ann Kanacheril, D.O., as the new medical director for Hope PACE, a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. The program provides a long-term, community-based alternative to nursing home care.

A college graduate of Tulane University, Kanacheril holds a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Nova Southeastern, achieving academic honors as a National Health Service Corps Scholar. She completed her residency at the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center, an affiliate of the Duke University Medical Center. Kanacheril previously worked in multi-specialty primary care practices in Orlando and Southwest Florida.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dr. Michelle Rougeux joins Hope HealthCare Services as assistant medical director

A member of the Hope Hospice team since 2010, Dr. Rougeux will oversee the care of Hope patients throughout Cape Coral.

A graduate of Niagara University with a doctorate from SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine, Rougeux has nearly 35 years of experience in the medical field. Board certified in family medicine, Rougeux also has certifications in hospice and palliative medicine. She previously served as medical director for the Steuben County Jail and Steuben County Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services in New York, where she is also licensed to practice.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Samira K. Beckwith appointed to National PACE Association board of directors

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, recently was elected to the board of directors for the National PACE Association. PACE is the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly that provides a long-term, community-based alternative to nursing home care.

Since 2009, Beckwith has served as a member of the National PACE Association’s public policy and education committees. In 2010, she became founding president of the Florida PACE Association.

“Serving on the National PACE board is important for our community,” said Beckwith. “PACE is breaking new ground every day, and the industry’s top professionals are leading the way. Our collaboration at the national level enhances the care we provide at Hope.”

PACE is a unique program designed to meet the needs of seniors while helping to provide support for families and caregivers. PACE provides comprehensive, coordinated health care services, dental services, therapies, transportation and meals.

“As the state of Florida strives to provide access to quality health care for our aging population,” said Beckwith, “PACE enables even the frail elderly to live independently while receiving individual support and professional health care services. It’s a relief for caregivers as well as for family members who know their loved ones are receiving quality, loving care.”

Beckwith serves in multiple leadership positions sharing her expertise gained from more than three decades in hospice and health care. Beckwith is a frequent participant in national and state health policy forums and has previously served as state delegate to the White House Conference on Aging and is the founding president of the Florida PACE Association.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hope HealthCare Services awarded grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation

Hope HealthCare Services recently was awarded a $5,000 grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation to support the Hope Connections program.

Hope Connections provides in-home care for elderly adults in Hendry and Glades counties, providing nutritious meals and assistance with a variety of needs including chores, companionship, safety reviews, and transportation.

Funds from BJ’s Charitable Foundation will help purchase food for Hope Connections patients.

 “Our commitment through Hope Connections is to help aging seniors remain in their homes,” said Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services. “By helping to provide a safe, caring environment, social interaction, and nutritious food, Hope is able to help individuals and their families live comfortably and confidently in the place they call home. BJ’s support will assist us tremendously in caring for these patients, each and every day.”

“BJ’s Charitable Foundation is dedicated to supporting hunger prevention, self-sufficiency, health care and education in the communities surrounding our clubs,” said Jessica Newman, executive director of the foundation. “We hope this donation benefits the incredible efforts of Hope HealthCare Services and the work they are doing to impact the lives of individuals and families, and enables them to continue to provide crucial services to those in need.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pet Wedding: Volunteers Sami and Smiley Tie the Knot at Joanne's House

With a wedding party of fourteen dogs of various breeds and sizes, Smiley, a rescued Greyhound, and Sami, a Poodle-Bichon mix, were brought together in canine matrimony in a special ceremony at Hope Hospice in Bonita Springs.

Anne Haxter, a long-time volunteer and trainer for the Hope Pet Visitor program, created the event as a way to bring patients and families together for an afternoon of smiles, laughter and joy. “We’re original as far as we know,” says Haxter of the doggy nuptials. “And we have a lot of fun. Everyone does; the patients, families and even the staff really get into it.”

At Sami and Smiley’s wedding, the veiled bride donned a gown and a garter, the bridesmaids wore purple, and the groom and ushers did their best to keep their tuxes on.

“One woman asked her husband to bring her a really nice blouse for the occasion. Well, he brought her a white one, and she said, “I can’t wear white, the bride is!” recalls Haxter, who has organized two such weddings over the past two years.

With patients, families and furry friends in attendance for the ceremony, the celebration went beyond the standing room only crowd in the community room.

“We tied dog food cans to the back of a dog buggy, hung a sign that said, “Just Married,” and did a parade to the other patients’ rooms who couldn’t come to the ceremony,” said Haxter.

From a wedding cake decorated with paw prints to a second cake baked just for the dogs, the volunteers were totally committed to making the celebration a grand experience for everyone in Hope’s care.

Friday, July 19, 2013

10 Ways to Help Your Aging Neighbor

  1. Introduce Yourself and Visit Often
    Share emergency contact information. Find out if your neighbor has local caregivers. If you notice that mail and newspapers aren't being picked up, check on them.
  2. Offer Help with Meals
    Go grocery shopping for a neighbor or share a family dinner. Malnutrition is a common problem and may result in confusion, disorientation, and apathy.
  3. Provide transportation to a doctor’s appointment
  4. Help with Lawn Care
    If grass looks overgrown, offer to mow. Refer your neighbor to local teens who may trim bushes or pull weeds at a lower cost than professional lawn services.
  5. Watch out for Scams
    Don’t let your neighbor get taken by a con artist. Report suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.
  6. Home Maintenance Help
    Offer to change lightbulbs, install grab bars, or paint.
  7. Personal Care
    Take your elderly neighbor to get a haircut or, if they’re homebound, have a hair stylist come to their homes.
  8. Look for Pet Neglect
    As elderly neighbors lose mobility, pets may suffer. Walk their pets; help with grooming.
  9. Just Listen
    Loneliness and isolation are often associated with depression in the elderly. Invite your neighbor for a short walk around the block. Exercise relieves stress and opens the door for conversations.
  10. Find Community Services
    Consider if your neighbor needs additional help. Hope has programs that allow seniors to stay safely in their own homes. Call us at (800) 835-1673 or share our phone number with your neighbor

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Celebrating New Friendships - Wings of Hope, Summer 2013

In this issue:
  • That's What Friends Are For
    Our patients reap the benefits of social connections
  • There's No Place Like Home
    We help the aging and seriously ill to stay comfortably at home
  • Tying the Leash
    A dog wedding entertains patients and visitors at Joanne's House
  • Photos
    Bonita Spring Luncheon, Mother's Day at Hospice House, Hope Volunteers at Twins Spring Training

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Giving Back: Become a Volunteer

Meaningful, gratifying, rewarding. The volunteers at Hope Hospice report immeasurable rewards from the experience of helping others at the end of life.

Many of our volunteers were introduced to Hope through the loss of a loved one, so they have firsthand knowledge of our philosophy. They will tell you that hospice is not about giving up. Instead, it’s about living each day to the fullest.

Our volunteers are important members of the hospice interdisciplinary team. Our care is not just about medical needs; we focus on each individual’s emotional, social and spiritual concerns. We also provide care to all friends and family members, recognizing that a serious illness affects not only the patient, but their loved ones as well. Volunteers help us to provide holistic, comforting care on a very personal level.

To ensure that hospice volunteers are well equipped to assist others at the end of life, we provide a day-long orientation session and regular follow-ups with volunteer mentors. Each volunteer is also assigned to a Hope staff member (Volunteer Coordinator), who can further guide them in their journey.

Hope’s volunteer opportunities are located throughout our southwest Florida service area, and volunteers are free to choose activities and opportunities that best suit their interests. Additional specialized training may be required for some volunteers, including pet visitors, bereavement callers or members of the Hope Honor Guard.

Apply to be a Hope volunteer

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Most Unhelpful Phrase in Health Care? "Do Everything"

What does it mean to “do everything” at the end of life? Advancements in medical technology provide us with many options when facing a life-limiting illness; however, it isn't always clear that these procedures benefit the patients they are intended to help. Some treatment options may cause significant pain and suffering.

The phrase “do everything” creates misunderstandings between physicians and family members. Does it mean performing the maximum number of medical interventions – even if the patient could not reasonably be expected to benefit from treatments?

By using terminology like “do everything,” we cut off meaningful discussions. It prohibits us from making informed choices. Families may turn to this phrase as a way of communicating their emotional distress and fear of abandonment. Instead, physicians and family members should have longer - real - conversations, exploring what can be done, and why.

The first question can be, “what can we do to help your loved one?” When answering this question, we will talk about the patient and family’s goals. Are we hoping for recovery? What comfort measures will be sacrificed by agreeing to further interventions? A meaningful conversation can address the goals of care and illustrate the different options that are available.

We need to realize that there is no way to truly “do everything” for a loved one. There are always choices to be made. We cannot hold a loved one's hand at the same moment that the code team yells “clear” and attempt defibrillation. We can choose either path, but we cannot do both. By acknowledging this reality, we can make thoughtful, informed decisions about what we really want.

Further Reading: “The Darkening Veil of ‘Do Everything,’” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine; August 2012; 166(8):694-695. Feudtner C and Morrison W; Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medical Ethics, and Pediatric Advanced Care Team, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hope Creates “Personal Treasures” for Hospice Families

Memories can take special - and unusual - forms at Hope Hospice. At a family member’s request, a patient’s boxer shorts were actually transformed into a precious little teddy bear, which became a comforting companion.

Favorite or memorable items of clothing are what Hope calls Personal Treasures, thanks to their sewing volunteers.

“Family members have said to us, I will always think of my husband, or my Dad, in his favorite shirt. They will tell us how much Mom enjoyed lounging in her favorite bathrobe,’” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “To help preserve the memory, we asked our volunteers to create keepsakes, such as cuddly bears or cozy pillows out of the patient’s clothing, if requested by the family.”

Beckwith said that since the project began in 2007, several hundred Personal Treasures have been created, each one evoking memories and smiles.

“We have had some rather unusual requests, such as the boxer shorts, but we know that each one is important, so we make it happen,” she said.

Jerseys, bowling shirts, bathrobes, skirts and blankets have all been turned into bears and pillows.

“It’s one more thing that we can do for the families in our care, to give them a special kind of comfort on life’s journey,” Beckwith said.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Watch Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith on Lee Pitts Live

Don't miss Samira's interview with Lee Pitts on YouTube. Lee Pitts Live is the longest running local television talk show in southwest Florida. Now in its twentieth year, the show features local celebrities, entertainers, elected officials and other power players throughout the area.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Updated Caregiver Support Groups

Explore ways of coping with many of the emotional and physical issues that accompany caregiving. These ongoing groups are open to anyone in a caregiver role, at no cost. It's an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and to encourage those who are in similar circumstances.

Caregiver Support Groups:

  • Hope Bonita Springs Community Room, 27200 Imperial Parkway; every Wednesday at 11 a.m.; contact Renee Young at or 239-985-2482 
  • Hope Lehigh Acres Community Room, 1201 Wings Way; every Saturday at 2 p.m.; contact Carolyn Divers at or 239-333-4250
  • Hope North Fort Myers Community Center, 13821 N. Cleveland Ave.; every Thursday at 1:30 p.m.; contact Tricia Betters-Black at or 239-985-2485
  • Hope HealthPark Community Room A, 9470 HealthPark Circle; every Wednesday at 1 p.m.; contact Judy Lenz at or 239-590-0276 

Parkinson’s Disease Caregiver Support Groups:

  • Faith United Methodist Church, 15690 McGregor Blvd.; First Wednesday at 10 a.m.
  • Cape Wellness Center, 609 SE 13th Court; First Thursday at 1 p.m. 

Contact Michelle Martin at for more information about Parkinson’s disease caregiver support groups.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Life with Hospice: Adding Quality and Time

A common misperception among Americans is that entering hospice care means there is little time left to live. However, research suggests otherwise. People may actually live longer in hospice care.

A study was conducted by researchers for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the highly regarded consulting and actuarial firm, Milliman, Inc. The researchers evaluated 4,493 patients with various forms of cancer and congestive heart failure. They analyzed the differences between those who received hospice care and those who did not. The finding was that the hospice patients in this group lived an average of 29 days longer than the non-hospice patients.

This means that in many cases, the hospice patient may have more precious days to spend with family and friends. This gift of time may be needed for resolution and closure. It can be an opportunity to mend or strengthen relationships and to enjoy reminiscing. Of course, this can also be a tremendous benefit to the family, having more time to express their love and to say goodbye.

What accounts for the increased longevity? According to the study, patients entering hospice in a weakened condition may avoid the risks of being over treated for their illness. Secondly, hospice patients may receive better monitoring, treatment, medications and therapies. Further, the physical, emotional and spiritual support provided by hospice may also be a factor in extending life, as this kind of care alleviates anxiety and fear.

 It has been often said that while hospice cannot add days to a person’s life, it can add quality to the days. According to this research, hospice care may actually be able to do both. 

Find Hope by calling 800-835-1673.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Visiting Nurses Association of Southwest Florida joins Hope HealthCare Services

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Fort Myers-based Hope HealthCare Services, announced today that Visiting Nurses Association of Southwest Florida, a community-based home health care agency, has become part of Hope’s Continuum of Care.

Services will continue with no interruption or changes for current patients of VNA, Beckwith said, adding that she hopes all VNA staff will remain in place for the comfort and care of patients during the transition and beyond.

“Hope HealthCare has been providing services in Southwest Florida for over 30 years, and the Visiting Nurses Association is the oldest home healthcare agency in the region,” Beckwith said. “We are both long-standing community organizations dedicated to providing access to quality care, regardless of an individual’s illness or ability to pay. We share the same values and the same commitment to providing excellent, compassionate care to members of our community during difficult times.” 

Hope now will offer Medicare-certified home health and private duty services. According to Beckwith, more than 90 percent of seniors prefer to receive care in their homes, and nearly 66 million American caregivers need home health support.

 “Home health is a natural complement to the services Hope has provided for decades,” Beckwith continued. “Our entire healthcare model is based on caring for people with serious illness - and for most of those individuals, our care takes place in their homes. Now, in addition to our community based programs, services and hospice care, we can use our outstanding skill set to provide the same compassionate, comforting care to those who require home health services.”

“This model is the future of healthcare,” she said. “We can serve individuals over a longer period of time, allowing us to provide more seamless, personalized care and attention, and offer the opportunity for more family involvement. We will continue to partner with organizations that can help us provide comprehensive care to all who are in need.” 

The Visiting Nurses Association of Southwest Florida was established in 1966 as Lee County’s first home health agency. The agency has provided medically needed services to clients in their place of residence by nurses, therapists, social workers and home health aides; all services are ordered and monitored by a physician, which will continue under Hope. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to welcome VNA into the Hope HealthCare family,” Beckwith said.

Hope Labyrinth at the Cape Coral Tribute Garden

We have recently opened our new Tribute Garden at our Cape Coral Care Center. We invite you and your community group to enjoy this public space.

Our redesigned and enhanced Tribute Garden includes new fountains, refreshed trees and garden plantings, a memorial wall and an impressive labyrinth. Your group can enjoy:
  • A short retreat and peaceful gathering
  • An outdoor meeting space
  • Strolling, conversing in the sunlight
  • Quiet reflection in a natural setting 
One of the most significant enhancements is the extensive Hope Labyrinth, which now features a stone path and waist-high plantings that lead visitors into the center and back out again. The labyrinth is often visited by churches, school children and other community groups. Anyone is invited to walk along this gently meandering pathway and enjoy the serene setting for quiet reflection and meditation.

Visit the labyrinth and Tribute Garden located at 2430 Diplomat Parkway E, Cape Coral.

Learn more about the labyrinth at

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Issue of Wings of Hope Now Available

Art and music therapy are the focus of the most recent issue of the Wings of Hope newsletter.

"Music has always been instrumental to my happiness, and playing is certainly much better than lying in bed and suffering. Thanks to Hope's Music Therapy program, I now look forward to each day with interest." 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beckwith elected vice chair of National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship

Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, has been elected vice chair of the board of directors for the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship, which advocates for quality cancer care for all people touched by cancer and provides tools that empower people to advocate for themselves.

Founded by and for cancer survivors, NCCS works to effect policy change at the national level, including regulation, funding and delivery of quality cancer care.

Beckwith has twice survived cancer; she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24 and later, breast cancer. Her experiences helped shape Beckwith’s career mission to ensure access to quality, compassionate health care services for all.

“Quality of life is the core focus of everything we offer at Hope HealthCare Services, and the work of NCCS supports our mission,” said Beckwith. “NCCS advocates at the national level to ensure quality care, and access to care, for everyone affected by cancer. They also provide resources that offer hope to those living with this disease and practical information to help people live each day as fully as possible. I’m pleased to serve as vice chair and help share our experiences from Hope on the national stage.”

Now in her second year on the NCCS board, Beckwith has an extensive background of service in shaping public policy. She served as a state delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, was a Governor’s appointee to the Long-Term Care Policy Advisory Council, serves on the boards of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life and the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association, and is the founding president of the Florida PACE Association.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dr. Luis R. Cortes joins Hope HealthCare Services as medical director

Luis R. Cortes, D.O., has joined Hope HealthCare Services as medical director.

Dr. Cortes is responsible for overseeing the hospice medical department and conducts home visits with patients in the Cape Coral area.

Prior to joining Hope, Dr. Cortes had a medical practice and served as a physician with a hospice provider in Fort Lauderdale. He holds numerous certifications and licenses, including board certification by the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a member of the College of Osteopathic Family Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Cortes earned his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hope HealthCare hosts 12th annual Conference on Aging

Healthcare professionals, older adults and family caregivers are invited to Hope HealthCare Services’ 12th annual Conference on Aging, which offers education on health care, mental health, case management and an update on current issues.

The event takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 5 at Broadway Palm, located at 1380 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers. Registration is $80 for licensed professionals - with continuing education credits available - and $40 for caregivers and students. To register for the event, visit

Presenters for the conference include:

  • Robert Pollack M.D. of Psychiatric Associates of Southwest Florida
  • Andy Oakes-Lottridge M.D. of Personalized Health Care Inc.
  • Natalie Childress of NCIM Inc.
  • Marilyn Gregory of Senior Choices of Southwest Florida
  • Britton Swank, Esq. and Beth Prather, Esq. of Prather & Swank, P.A.
  • Bob Sheehan and Jonathan Scalone of Hope HealthCare Services
  • Kandy Love of the Healthy & Harmony Center

Topics include mental health and mental illness; polypharmacy; practical resources for the elderly; elder neglect and self neglect; final arrangements; benefits and placement options; veterans care; and stress management.

The Conference on Aging is sponsored by Prather & Swank, P.A., in partnership with Dottie Hummel Consulting, Lee Memorial Health System, Arden Courts, Florida Gulf Coast University and United Way of Lee County.

Call Heather Chester at (239) 489-9164 for further details.

Monday, February 11, 2013

National and local experts to present at Hope’s Annual Parkinson Symposium

Hope Parkinson Program will feature three experts on Parkinson’s disease at its 2013 Annual Parkinson Symposium on Friday, March 15. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at Grace Community Center, located at 4151 Hancock Bridge Parkway in North Fort Myers.

Dr. J. Eric Ahlskog, a Mayo Clinic physician specializing in Parkinson’s disease, will present “Parkinson’s Disease: The Big Picture.”

Dr. Saman Javedan, an authority on deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s treatment in the department of neurology at Lee Memorial Health System, will discuss “Surgical Options for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease.”

Dr. Amanda Avila, movement disorder specialist and medical director of the Hope Parkinson Program, will share “Tips & Tricks for Managing Parkinson’s Disease.”

A question-and-answer period will follow the lectures, and the $20 registration fee will cover a continental breakfast for attendees.

Register before Saturday, March 9 by calling 239-985-7727, or online at Check-in on the day of the event begins at 8 a.m.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

‘Tournament of Charities’ Tees Off for Hope Hospice: Two-day event includes golf, cocktail party and awards luncheon

Hope Hospice has been named the beneficiary of The Golf Club at Magnolia Landing’s “Tournament of Charities” on February 8 and 9. The two-day event - which is open to the public - features a golf tournament, cocktail party and an awards luncheon, with all proceeds benefiting local programs of Hope Hospice.

Event tickets are $100 per player including golf, and $50 per ticket for the cocktail party and luncheon only.
The cocktail party begins at 5 p.m. on Feb. 8, with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start on Feb. 9 followed by the buffet lunch and golf awards. Silent auction and raffle tickets will be available Friday night and throughout the day Saturday.

To participate in the Tournament of Charities, contact The Golf Club at Magnolia Landing at 239-543-4146.

Hope HealthCare Services Board of Directors Announces New Members

Three local community leaders have joined the board of directors for Hope HealthCare Services.

Jerry Nichols, principal of Naples-based Employee Benefits Planning and Personal Insurance Services, is a Certified Public Accountant, Chartered Financial Consultant and a Chartered Life Underwriter. He has been recognized as the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County’s Man of the Year and is a Laureate in the Business Leadership Hall of Fame of Collier County.

Madlyn Dornaus is senior vice president and chief compliance officer for Radiation Therapy Services, which operates radiology clinics in 16 states and seven foreign countries. Dornaus is a member of the Medical Group Management Association and is a certified health care compliance and privacy officer.  

Luis E. Insignares, a Fort Myers-based family law attorney and mediator with The Law Office of Luis E. Insignares, P.A., serves on the executive council of the Florida Bar Association’s Family Law Section. A member of Florida Trend’s Legal Elite and a Florida Super Lawyer, Insignares is past chair of the 20th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

The new members join current board members Tom Giles, founder, president and CEO of Avalon Engineering; Larry Hart, Lee County tax collector; Steve Personette, former manager of public affairs for Embarq; Fred Pezeshkan, chairman of Manhattan Construction Florida; Ron Smalley, former managing partner for Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt; and Linda Uhler, 35-year resident of Sanibel Island, former elementary school teacher and district deputy for Congressman Porter Goss.

The board’s leadership includes Chairman Sandy Robinson, president of Northern Trust’s Fort Myers office; Vice-Chair Bo Turbeville, vice president of Accent Business Products; Secretary Richard C. Ackert, former president and CEO of SouthTrust Bank, Southwest Florida; Treasurer Charles Idelson, principal founder of Investors’ Security Trust Company; and past Chair Rev. Tim Halverson, pastor and head of staff at Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral.

Board members serve three-year terms and contribute their expertise, time, talent and resources to advancing Hope’s mission of providing exceptional care and support to every individual and their loved ones as they fulfill life’s journey.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Wings of Hope Magazine Available

Read about a special hospice patient, learn more about the Hope Parkinson Program, see event photos, discover upcoming fundraisers and get all the important news from Hope. Click the image above for links to the full version and past issues.

Hope Hospice Accredited by the National Institute for Jewish Hospice (NIJH)

Hope Hospice is among only a few organizations selected for accreditation by the National Institute for Jewish Hospice (NIJH). NIJH was founded in 1985 to address the Jewish community’s end-of-life care needs. Its recent accreditation efforts focus on providing onsite training to U.S. hospice programs, geriatric centers and hospitals.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

‘Dancing with Hope’ showcases students’ talents to benefit Hope Hospice and Gulfshore Ballet

Hope HealthCare Services and Gulfshore Ballet present “Dancing with Hope,” featuring former Miami City Ballet principal dancers Iliana Lopez and Franklin Gamero, on Saturday, March 9.

The performance benefits both organizations and takes place at Edison State College’s Rush Auditorium, located in the “J” building at 8099 College Parkway in Fort Myers.

Advanced dancers from Gulfshore Ballet, Southwest Florida’s premier, not-for-profit school of classical ballet, will present a two-part performance, with live piano accompaniment, under the guidance of one of the school’s renowned artistic directors.

Light refreshments will be served starting at 5:30 p.m., with a variety of dance costumes on display. An outdoor garden reception for VIP guests begins at 4:30 p.m. and features live music and champagne with Gulfshore Ballet’s directors. The showcase performance begins at 6 p.m.

Individual tickets are $100, and VIP tickets are $200. Sponsorships begin at $1,500. For reservations or additional information, contact 489-9164 or visit

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hope PACE hosts ‘Understanding Dementia’

Members of the public are invited to “Understanding Dementia,” a discussion regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease on Thursday, Jan. 17 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Hope’s PACE Center in Naples, located at 13020 Livingston Road.

The discussion will be led by Catherine Cruikshank, M.D., as part of Hope HealthCare Services’ Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). There is no cost to attend.

Dr. Cruikshank, who serves as the regional director of education for the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, will discuss symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, distinguishing the disease from other dementias, and obtaining an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Dr. Cruikshank holds a master’s degree in geriatric administration and a doctorate in gerontology, with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information or to register for the event, contact Melissa Horinek at 239-218-2470 or