by Bill Batson
The staff that work from this serenely situated suite of offices tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac in New City have given great comfort to thousands. United Hospice of Rockland, Inc. (UHR) provides a wide range of services to individuals facing serious illness and their families. When my family was confronted with the challenge of making end-of-life decisions for two beloved family members, all of our most urgent personal and professional needs were met by United Hospice of Rockland.
Hospice provides palliative care that not only eases the physical suffering of the patient, but also reduces the emotional and psychological stress of the caretaker. While the living have been called upon, since time immemorial, to witness their loved ones shuffle off this mortal coil, since the mid-20th century, the health care community has begun to pay more attention to the particular needs of the elderly and the terminally ill.
In medieval times, a hospice was a place of shelter for the weary or travelers who encountered medical misfortune on a long journey. British physician Dame Cicely Saunders first used the term in a clinical setting for her work with the terminally ill, creating the first modern hospice – St. Christopher’s Hospice – in London in 1948.
In 1963, Saunders was invited to lecture at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where she introduced the concept of specialized care for the dying to medical practitioners in the United States. Six years later, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, published the seminal work, “On Death and Dying,” a book based on more than 500 interviews with dying patients.
United Hospice of Rockland
Executive Director Amy Stern
Amy Stern has led United Hospice of Rockland since 1989. She was hired in 1988 as their first social worker. Before UHR, Amy’s work included the establishment of a palliative care home care program at Good Samaritan Hospital and social work in acute care hospitals and foster care settings.
“We know firsthand from our observations and from what has been conveyed to us by patients and families that people reap the largest benefit from hospice when they access hospice services sooner rather than later,” Stern said. “We continue to be surprised by how many Rocklanders are unaware of the services we provide or have inaccurate information about eligibility and the services we provided. Studies have demonstrated that hospice patients live longer than their counterparts that do not use hospice services.
Hospice care is not a death sentence. We help to improve quality of life, reduce caregiver burden, and provide invaluable resources.”
For additional information visit United Hospice of Rockland.
By the late 1980s, there were three organizations attempting to offer hospice-like services in Rockland County. A strong desire to have a a true hospice organization, led these groups to form United Hospice of Rockland in 1988.
UHR envisions a community in which all individuals and their loved ones facing serious illness can retain their dignity and hope, while receiving quality care. UHR’s mission is to enable patients with advanced illnesses to live in comfort, and surrounded by those they love. The services they provide can take place in a patient’s home or at the Joe Raso Hospice Residence that opened in New City in 2012.
A patient must be diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a six-month or less life expectancy to be eligible for hospice services. UHR works with patients and their families to develop a personalized plan of care. Guidance and support includes:
- Nurses, including on-call nurses who are available 24 hours/day
- Home health aides
- Social workers
- Physician care
- Spiritual support
- Therapies (physical, respiratory, occupational, speech, music and massage)
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Bereavement counseling
Our family has prevailed upon the services of United Hospice of Rockland twice in the last four years. In our household, taking one’s last breath at home in bed is a time-honored tradition. My father, William Prime Batson, and his sister, Frances Adeline Batson, struggled to grant that wish to their mother, Frances Lillian Avery Batson.
When Frances and Prime, as their friends called them, requested that same consideration, my cousin Sylvia Peterson and I were compelled, by their example, to accommodate them. We both feel strongly that the services of UHR made it possible for us to fulfill that promise.
Since the cost of hospice care is significantly less than hospitalization, coverage is available from Medicaid, Medicare and most insurance carriers.
A team of people and a variety of equipment vendors helped transform a room in our home into a hospice setting. On a good day, that task would have been daunting. While overcome with despair, it would have been impossible. Hospice assumed the logistical and medical responsibilities, leaving our family to sit, dine and commune with our nearly departed.
If you want to be in the position to help ease the suffering of a parent and terminally ill family member, the time to act is now. If you want your wishes respected at the end of your run, commit those desires to notarized papers.
United Hospice of Rockland
Dancing with Our Stars
Join United Hospice of Rockland on Sunday, October 19 for their 2014 Gala at the Colonial Inn in Norwood, NJ. This year’s honorees are Rockland County District Attorney, Thomas Zugibe & family in memory of Dr. Frederick Zugibe and Vincent Abbatecola Jr. & family in memory of Vincent Abbatecola Sr.
- Sharon Kantrowitz (dancing “One Night Only” from DreamGirls with Nolan Josephs from NY Dance Sport)
- Lenny Birbrower (dancing “Mack the Knife” with Julia Ceccolini from Fred Astaire, Bardonia)
- Sue Rutledge (dancing a contemporary hip-hop number with Michael Moraru from Fred Astaire, Bardonia)
- Rob Fellows (dancing with Anna Moraru from Fred Astaire, Bardonia)
- Rita Lombard (dancing “Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge with Igor Sharapanuk from NY Dance Sport)
For tickets visit United Hospice of Rockland.
Legal and medical documents should be prepared in a timely fashion, while your loved one is of sound mind, or the patient and your family will lose control over major decisions. Make sure that older members of your family have a health care proxy, power of attorney and living will in place. UHR provides a free service to help families create and store their advanced directive online at assuringyourwishes.org.
No matter how prepared you are, the loss of a loved one is devastating. Being unprepared can expose the patient to unnecessary suffering and leave a family with a feeling of irreparable regret.
Three years and one month apart from each other, my father and his sister passed away in their beds, as they had wished. When the loss of a parent, a moment that we all dread, comes with such tranquility and dignity, the lingering impression is of your loved one slipping gently into the eternal slumber.
For those transcendent memories, we thank United Hospice of Rockland.