November is designated as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, providing opportunities for Americans to learn about end-of-life care choices available to them. In 2011, an estimated 1.65 million patients received hospice services. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization estimates that, for 2011, approximately 44.6 percent of all deaths in the U.S. were under the care of a hospice program.
To kick-off National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, Niagara Hospice honored volunteers at a recognition dinner at Classics V on Nov. 2.
"We are so grateful for the dedication of our over 120 Niagara Hospice volunteers," states Niagara Hospice Marketing and Public Relations Director Patricia Degan. "They are each part of the Hospice team that ensures every Niagara County resident in need of hospice care receives it. Whether providing direct care to patients or working in the office or helping with fundraising efforts, our volunteers don't just do the work - they make it work."
Last year, Niagara Hospice volunteers provided more than 15,000 hours of service. As part of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, volunteers were honored with service awards and several other awards of distinction. Receiving five-year service awards were Carol Brock, Mary Dixon and Barbara McHenry. Karen Feger received her 10-year service award; and Tom Dreier was given his 15-year service award. Receiving 20-year service awards were Barbara Reed and Patricia Scremin.
Gene Brayley of Lockport received the Founder's Award. Carol Sprung of Lockport received the Director's Award. Robert Goodlander of Lockport took home the Ernie Leder Memorial Speakers Bureau Award and Michele Morris and her Newfoundland "Baby" of Niagara Falls received the Camp Hope Pet Visit Award.
Accepting the Camp Hope Outstanding Volunteer Award posthumously for Brian Rosie was his wife, Debbie Osborne of North Tonawanda. Brian battled Hodgkin's disease for many years and his cancer returned two months before Camp Hope 2011 was to begin. Regardless, he called and told the camp director that he was ready to volunteer. Brian lost his battle shortly after Camp Hope ended. During the award presentation, Camp Hope Director Linda Bazinet stated that Brian so loved Camp Hope that of the last 26 days of his life, Brian gave up three to Camp Hope.
His dedication and compassion for Camp Hope and the many grieving children he helped emulates the many hospice volunteers who give so willingly of their time to bring comfort to strangers who often very quickly become friends.
Noting that the time to learn about end-of-life care choices is before you need them, Degan also announced that Niagara Hospice will host an open house from 3 until 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26, at Niagara Hospice House, 4675 Sunset Drive, Lockport. Hospice staff and volunteers will be on hand to provide hospice education, advance care planning information as well as bereavement resources. Hospice House tours and refreshments will also be provided.
Niagara Hospice has provided end-of-life comfort, care and support since 1988 to more than 20,000 Niagara County individuals and families faced with terminal illness. No one is ever denied hospice care due to inability to pay. For more information, visit www.NiagaraHospice.org or call Hospice at 716-439-4417.