By Phil Jacobs
One of the jobs we do as editors is to read and edit the many obituaries that come across our desks.
We do so with the understanding that the writers of these obituaries want to include as many surviving relatives as possible as well as good friends and even pets, and that many of these notices include expressions of faith.
What we see often that transcends religious denominational lines is the fond thank you many of the obituaries give to different organizations. The one that has caught our eye the most is Coastal Hospice & Palliative Care.
Coastal Hospice comes up for many families and is for almost all, a blessing.
I am writing about about this in this Editor’s Notebook space, but I will be writing more about Coastal Hospice in the upcoming weeks in the form of a feature story, so stay tuned.
Hospice hits a personal nerve for me, as I’m sure it does for many. When my father, Morton Jacobs, died of cancer in October 1985, it was the end of a journey that taught me so much about the goodness of people.
We did not know much about hospice, but one was recommended to us. We had a hospice nurse named Mrs. Rock. What an incredible name for this woman who was strong in one sense, and who took over, giving our family respite time. At one point, the hospice doctor answered our fearful phone call at midnight. He came over to our house where my dad was in a hospital bed placed in our dining room.
The doctor, Ken Glick, took two actions I can never forget. He first called a friend who owned a small pharmacy and told him he needed morphine immediately. It was now 12:30 a.m. The owner, pharmacist Phil Weiner, told me to meet him at his store. When I got there, Mr. Weiner went behind the counter, got me the morphine, and refused to take any payment.
After the medications were administered, settling my dad down, Dr. Glick then gave the most important medical advice I have yet to hear duplicated. He said something like: “you need to go to your father’s bedside now and tell him how much you love him, and how you will take care of his grandchildren, and that you will always remember him.”
My father, though, semi-conscious I feel heard every word. He left us five days later.
Flash forward. This very summer, my wife and I have a dear friend who at this writing is at home under hospice care. Karen is being kept out of pain. Her relatives and friends have been by her bedside 24/7.
Karen’s house is where I came from when I drove to the Salisbury offices of Coastal Hospice.
There I met with Coastal Hospice President Alane K. Capen and Elaine J. Bean, community relations manager, because I wanted to learn more about this organization so many wrote about in their loved one’s obituary for a bigger story. I just couldn’t wait to write some preliminary thoughts now.
Its mission statement says, “Coastal Hospice promotes dignity and quality of life for patients and families who face life-limiting conditions.”
What you might not necessarily know:
- Most Coastal Hospice patients are cared for in their own homes.
- Hospice cares for any patient with a life-limiting illness (not just cancer).
- Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance cover hospice care.
- People who don’t have the ability to pay are not turned away.
- Each patient has a team of caregivers, including their family doctor.
- Hospice care includes medications and supplies.
- Doctors and families tell Coastal Hospice their only regret is not calling the service sooner.
Coastal Hospice was founded in1980 and serves Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester Counties.
Yes, there are plans to build Coastal Hospice at the Ocean. In 2009, the hospice opened an outreach center on Racetrack Road in Worcester County. A new Coastal Hospice at the Ocean building will one day be constructed off of Broad street in Berlin. Alane Capen said the facility would start with six rooms than ultimately have 12 patient rooms.
Coastal Hospice does currently run an in-patient care unit called Coastal Hospice at the Lake at Deer’s Head Hospital in Salisbury.
And as Capen said, Hospice is not a place where one goes to die. Indeed, it’s a place where a patient can live better and studies show many times longer.
“We are redefining hope,” she said. “Not hopelessness.”
And dignity and care and even love.
I saw with my dad, and I’m seeing it now with my friend Karen. What we have in Coastal Hospice is a jewel of humanity. And I can’t wait to write more. If you care to share your current hospice experience or are a family member who wants to discuss what it was like to work with hospice, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, check out Coastal Hospice and Palliative Care at www.coastalhospice.org
Also, the hospice is presenting a summertime craft beer fest and cookout at Brew River on the Wicomico River in downtown Salisbury to raise funds for Coastal Kids Supportive Care, Coastal Hospice’s pediatric program. The event is scheduled for Saturday, July 19; from 4 to 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $40 in advance online or $45 at the door.