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Twenty is Plenty - raising funds for hospice patients - Article from the Harrison Daily Times

Hospice of the Hills is holding their annual Twenty Is Plenty campaign through Friday October 19, 2012.  On Oct. 19 there will be a local, all-day, live radio telethon to support the Hospice House.  Those who want to give can call (870) 365-2020; donations can also be made from the website: www.hospiceofthehills.com.

The initial campaign, which began about five years ago, runs for 30 days, once a year. This year’s campaign received a warm welcome at last Thursday’s Business After Hours, hosted by NARMC and Hospice of the Hills is a service program which provides end of life care to the terminally ill.

“When we built the house,” says Jerry Jackson, a Hospice of the Hills board member, “we made a commitment that we would try to do all we could to help those who were unable to pay for themselves.” The Twenty Is Plenty fundraiser does just that, it raises money to take care of Hospice patients’ needs.   For those without financial means, Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance, it can help with patient medications, upkeep on the house, the serenity garden or even with the travel expenses of bringing in family to be with their loved ones.

Hospice care also extends beyond the doors of the hospice house.  Currently, in our area there are a dozen or more hospice patients residing in their homes. “Patients stay at home until they can no longer manage their pain,” says Arie Britt, Hospice treasurer, "or until the family feels they mentally and physically, can’t do it anymore,“ Britt adds.

Through a program authorized by Medicare, families can also get respite care for their loved ones.  Respite care offers family members a break for a week from the hardships of caring for a loved one near the end of life.   “When that happens,” says Britt, “they come to the house, and either their loved ones stay with them, visit with them, or they may actually take a vacation.  Then they go home.”  At the end of life, when patients and family can no longer handle the pain or the circumstances, they come to the house, “where the staff at the house becomes the caregivers and family members begin to take care of themselves and their loved ones,” states Britt.

“It is a very non-profit operation,” said Jackson, “we are non-profit and it is non-profit.”  According to Jackson, when the Hospice of the Hills house was in its infancy there was little knowledge on the logistics – state health department requirements, hospital issues and the cost of construction. "We thought we were building a house that was going to cost $70,000,” said Jackson ”and we ended up building a house that cost roughly ½ million.”

When the house was built there were four patient rooms. Today there are between 2 and 2.4 patients per day that use those rooms, and with family members, sometimes as many as 20 at one time visiting, the rooms are full most of the time.  For this reason and future concerns, the Hospice house has initiated a program to add rooms to its present location.

“We need the expansion,” says Britt, “our patients can’t wait. It’s horrible to have to turn a family away. If they say, they’ll come back in a couple of days, well, the average stay is only a couple of days.”  The expansion, when complete will double the number of patient rooms – making eight. It will also add two family rooms, a meeting room, an atrium common area and office space constructed underneath.  Hospice has been accepting donations to help fund the new addition, and when the Twenty Is Plenty donation level exceeds what is needed for patient care, “and we are fortunate it has,” says Jackson, its funds will be used to help supplement the expansion program planned at the house.

In 1992, the hospice house formed a partnership with NARMC. Hospice of the Hills owns the house and NARMC provides medical services, staff and supplies, for patients’ hospital care, both at the house and in patients’ homes.  None of the funds from the Twenty Is Plenty fundraiser is used for hospital staff.

“We get a lot of feedback of having a home environment at Hospice of the Hills,” says Britt. Both Britt and Jackson agree they must strive to keep it that way.  “It’s as much about the family as the patients,” says Jackson. “There is a special, loving spirit in that house, we can’t describe, it touches everyone.” When inquiring about hospice care at the house, says Jackson, “remember to ask for us by name – Hospice of the Hills.”