"When medical science can no longer add days to life, what matters is the quality of life that can be added to each day." This statement, taken from Hope Hospice's web site at www.HopeHospice.com, sums up the goal of this Tri-Valley nonprofit: to help those with terminal illnesses face their final days in as comfortable a setting as possible.
"You can see for yourself what a difference it would be to be in an institutional setting like a hospital compared to being in your own home," explains Helen Meier, executive director of Hope Hospice. "When someone is in the hospital they're not in their home environment, so they don't have the comfort of having their own things around them, or their animals, their family and friends. For people who are familiar with what a hospice provides, it is the preferred choice in the United States for end of life care."
Hope Hospice, which has its offices in Dublin, was founded in 1980 by a small group of volunteers but has grown steadily ever since. They now have over 30 paid staff in addition to a host of volunteers who assist with everything from bereavement services to working in the office to the production of fundraising events. In its 26 years of existence, Hope Hospice has helped over 3,300 people face death with comfort and dignity, and benefited countless others with counseling and other services following the passing of their loved ones.
"Hospice is for all end-stage illness, not just for one illness," Meier adds. "There are some people who remember back a number of years ago when hospice was more focused on cancer, but that's not the case now. We gladly serve anyone who has cancer but that's not the limitation of hospice; hospice can serve anyone with an end-stage illness."
Hospice has also played a key role in assisting area residents deal with the illnesses of relatives living in other regions, Meier says. "Let's say that a parent is in another state and the children want to bring the parent to be close to them at the end of life. If they come in from out of state, our medical director or associate medical director is able to take over and become the physician of record in order to make sure that the patient has what they need, and that's an enormous help for some of our families."
Hope Hospice has grown dramatically in recent years. "We have gone from an average patient caseload of about 18 to 20 four years ago and now we're usually in the low to mid 50s, so we've more than doubled in size," she says.
Part of the organization's growth depends on the continued support of its donors and volunteers, many of whom participate in the annual Hope Hospice Lights of the Valley fundraiser. Held in Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, and for the first time this year in San Ramon in late November and early December, Lights of the Valley is a memorial event where participants can celebrate the life of the person that they've lost.
"Each one is a little bit different but in three places, there's actually a tree lighting, there's music, and we have the poet laureates from the different towns come and read a poem in memoriam of those who have died, so it's a very nice way for families to come and remember their loved ones," says Meier.
For additional information on Hope Hospice, access their web site at www.HopeHospice.com or telephone (925) 829-8770.
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