Compass Regional Hospice celebrates ’champion’ legislators and corporate leaders

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This was Compass Regional Hospice’s first official briefing of its elected officials, business leaders and community guests from the three Mid-Shore counties it serves.

Sen. Stephen Hershey, R-36-Upper Shore; Del. Jeff Ghrist, R-36-Caroline; Del. Steve Arentz, R-36-Queen Anne’s; Del. Jay Jacobs, R-36-Kent; and Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Jim Moran and Jack Wilson attended the breakfast, where Compass Regional Hospice staff and members of its board of directors had the chance to say ‘thank you’ for a job well done during the legislative session this past winter, and for helping the organization to secure state funding, additional funds from the governor’s capital budget and Queen Anne’s County funding.

After a welcome from Compass Regional Hospice Board Chairman Tom Helfenbein, Heather Guerieri, executive director, Compass Regional Hospice; and president of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, briefed guests on “The Changing Landscape of Hospice and Palliative Care,” including its impact on health care costs to businesses and their employees.

“We are celebrating some historic milestones for our organization, that have been made possible thanks to the extraordinary support of our special guests and District 36 champions,” Guerieri said. “We’ve been providing hospice care in the region for 33 years, and many of you are partners and supporters of our work.”

Guerieri said the landscape of hospice care has been evolving in the past 10 years.

“Hospice is not a ‘place,’ and should not be referred to as a ‘death sentence,’” Guerieri said. “It’s a very caring and successful model of comfort care that can begin at the onset of a life-limiting diagnosis and continue through to a patient’s final days and moments of life. The spectrum of care reaches the patient, their loved ones and a patient’s caregivers.”

She said care can take place “in the comfort of one’s home, in an assisted living or nursing home environment, or in the more supervised patient care setting of a hospice facility,” like the ones Compass Regional Hospice operates in Centreville, Chestertown and Denton.

Those providing care range from certified nursing assistants and registered nurse practitioners, to social workers, grief counselors and a wide range of volunteers, including those specific to veterans’ needs and those who are referred to as “vigil volunteers” — a volunteer who is present during the last days of a patient’s life.

Compass Regional Hospice takes care of infants and children, as well as adults in need of its programs, and patients are never turned away based on an inability to pay for services. Because of this, Guerieri said there is a $1.4 million funding gap between what the organization receives in service payments and the actual cost of care provided.

“Our daily census — the number of patients we are serving daily — is close to 100, and will continue to grow, especially as the elderly community grows, with more retirees moving to the Eastern Shore,” Guerieri said.

She said the organization is in the middle of its capital campaign, “Our Journey, Together,” and part of the $5 million campaign includes critical renovations and an expansion for the Compass Regional Hospice – Hospice Center in Centreville. The expansion will grow the facility from a six-bed facility to a 10-bed facility.

In addition to hospice patient care, Compass Regional Hospice also runs grief support programs.

“One of the most critical programs we run in order to serve the community is our grief support programs,” said Kathy Deoudes, emeritus board chairman.

Rhonda Knotts, director of grief services at Compass Regional Hospice, said loss is not solely about death, but about any type of loss, including those pertaining to relationships, independence, traumatic experiences and financial stability.

“About 15 percent of those who are grieving are also struggling with a mental health diagnosis. This can make their symptoms of grief much more severe,” Knotts said. “Through our grief support programs, we strive every day to normalize the feelings of those who are grieving and help them get on the path to a healthier healing.”

In addition to specialized support groups, Compass Regional Hospice also offers one-on-one sessions and healing workshops, all at no cost to those who need them.

Hershey and Ghrist gave a “shout out” to Gov. Larry Hogan for making funding for hospice care a priority during the legislative session, and Jacobs said he supported Compass Regional Hospice’s comfort of those who are grieving and dying. Arentz said hospice care on the Eastern Shore is a priority.

“It’s easy to get behind a need, and this is a need,” he said.

Compass Regional Hospice – Care on your terms
Compass Regional Hospice is a fully licensed, independent, community-based nonprofit organization certified by Medicare and the state of Maryland and accredited by the Joint Commission. Since 1985, Compass Regional Hospice has been dedicated to supporting people of all ages through the challenge of living with a life-limiting illness and learning to live following the death of a loved one. Today, the organization is a regional provider of hospice care and grief support in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties. “Care on your terms” is the promise that guides staff and volunteers as they care for patients in private residences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and the residential hospice centers in Centreville, Chestertown and Denton. Grief support services are offered to children, adults and families of patients who died under hospice care, as well as members of the community who are grieving the loss of a loved one, through The Hope & Healing Center.

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