Image above: The Hospice of North Central Florida team in the late 1980’s!
The recent 50th anniversary of the founding of the modern hospice movement by Dame Cicely Saunders made me think about my own journey in hospice, and how it began.
Back in 1977 I attended a lecture by Dr Elizabeth Kubler Ross., who had come to Orlando to talk about her groundbreaking work. I was tremendously inspired by what I heard, and determined to become a part of the hospice movement. In 1983 I got my chance, becoming Executive Director of a tiny hospital-based hospice in Gainesville, Florida.
Our office was a remodeled elevator shaft, a windowless space with walls that were 2 feet thick. When I started, we had three staff members (two of whom were part time), fifteen volunteers, and five patients. We didn’t charge fees; it was a free service offered by our community hospital, Alachua General. It came about through a coalition of the communities, ministers, physicians, volunteers, hospital...
Image Below: All dressed up for the NHPCO Gala recently: Christy Whitney, Jan Jones NHPCO Board Chair, Edo Banach NHPCO CEO ,Patti Moore, Mrs.Banach
What Would Dame Cicely Do?
That was the question posed to attendees at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's Management and Leadership Conference in Washington DC by the incoming President and CEO, Edo Banach recently. He told us NHPCO's focus will be bringing value to members and focusing on innovation. We were reminded of milestones reached this year; the 35th anniversary of the Medicare Hospice Benefit and the 50th anniversary of St Christopher’s Hospice in London, where the modern-day hospice movement began under Dame Cicely Saunders. And we were asked to consider “WWDCD” - What Would Dame Cicely Do? What would she do now, 50 years later?
Holding tightly to the old paradigms isn’t a viable option. Hospice organizations must find ways to identify what patients, families,...
I am a nurse. I still define myself as a nurse, even though I have not tended to a patient in that role for many years. I renew my license every two years (just in case this consulting gig doesn't work out), and I still think like a nurse in terms of how I assess nearly all situations: What is the problem, what are the contributing factors, and what are the options for solutions? What action is the best for all concerned, and how can I protect the dignity of the patient (or in my case, my client), while respecting their choices and decisions, and hold in confidence all information entrusted to me?
This is the one week a year we set aside to acknowledge the women and men who accept the (updated) version of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, which says in part, "I...pledge to care for the sick with all my skill and the understanding I possess, without regard to race, creed, color, politics or social status, sparing no effort to preserve quality of life, alleviate suffering...
Image Above: Hospice of the Western Reserve's volunteer Walk to Remember 2017
It’s National Volunteer Week; and time to celebrate! This past week, I was in Cleveland working with the Hospice of the Western Reserve. They held two banquets celebrating their 3,000 remarkable volunteers. The speaker was local Clevelander, Alex Sheen, founder of “Because I Said I Would” movement for the “…betterment of humanity through promises made and kept”. HWR realizes their volunteers play an enormous role in the success of their organization and offer volunteer opportunities in many, many areas of their organization.
What are our volunteer’s worth? According to a recent report by the nonprofit coalition, Independent Sector, more than 63 million Americans volunteered about 8 billion hours, which would equate to about $193 billion based on that hourly value. In Hospice, we literally could not do what we do without their willing and...
Image Above: Danny Meyer on Hospitality...the root word of Hospice
In my last newsletter I introduced Danny Meyer the famous NYC restauranteur with radical ideas about "enlightened hospitality". His commitment to extraordinary customer service begins first with an excellent staff. How do you hire - for skills, or for people smarts? My philosophy has always led me to look first for personality, a sense of mission, and cultural fit, because the rest can be learned.
Danny dealt with a similar situation in staffing his first restaurant. As he describes the process, “My brain was looking for people with restaurant skills, but my heart was beseeching me to cultivate a restaurant family. The job application form I wrote was idiosyncratic: I typed questions like, “How has your sense of humor been useful to you in your service career?” “What was so wrong about your last job?” “Do you prefer Hellmann’s or Miracle Whip?” If...
Image Above: Patti and Danny Meyer NYC 2008
Inspiration and great ideas for hospice management often come from surprising sources. For instance, what could we in hospice possibly learn from a top-flight New York restaurateur like Danny Meyer? As it turns out, plenty - especially if we’re looking for insight on how to find and keep great staff.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much similarity there is in our respective fields; after all, “hospice” and “hospitality” both spring from the same Latin root – and we’re both in the business of providing comfort and welcome to strangers. And, as is true in the kinds of high-end dining places Meyers has created – restaurants like Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, The Modern, and even The Shake Shack, - our patients’ experiences hinge on the quality of their interactions with our front-line staff. Truly, staff members are the face and heart of our organizations -...
March is the teasing harbinger of spring, when the saying “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” could easily be flipped by the fickle weather. March was the month of my brother’s birthday, which meant a party on or about the 24th. March, a transition month from the solid cold of February to the dancing colors of April, can start out quiet, then suddenly, BANG! You are picking up the pieces from the storm. And then…March is gone. Madness, really.
In my hometown of Gainesville, Florida, March is madness for another reason; it’s round ball, college hoops time! There is madness in the air and it is not due to the weather. It goes without saying that I’m a fan – it’s practically a civic duty – but one team in particular holds a special place in my heart; the Gator Boys of 2006.
Back in ‘06, our team was made up of a bunch of kids who loved to play the game of basketball. They were a...
Image Above: Our grand daddy live oak on the ground
I’ve always loved trees. I loved climbing trees as a kid. We had our favorite "big tree" where my friends would meet, a giant live oak that had grown up around a telephone pole. As elementary school kids we would ride our bikes to the "big tree” and climb up its enormous, gentle trunk. Then the brave ones would slide down the telephone pole, splinters and all. Mostly we sat on its outstretched branches and just enjoyed the world from that lofty perch.
The first poem I memorized was Joyce Kilmer's Trees; "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree." I’ve even made a pilgrimage the Joyce Kilmer National Forest in western North Carolina (Did I mention I love trees?).
My husband and I live on a beautiful wooded property outside Gainesville, FL. We are surrounded by enormous live oaks whose branches defy gravity, reaching out to embrace the Light, paralleling the earth with...
A big part of what I do is executive matchmaking, helping hospices connect with leaders who can pilot them safely through the shifting seas to the future. For those of you who are knee-deep in the search process, or who foresee an executive search in your future, here are some of the things I’ve learned in the 30+ years I’ve spent as a hospice leader, consultant and recruiter.
I have been thinking a lot about intentions: Merriam Webster dictionary defines intention as “a determination to act in a certain way”, and goal as “the end to which effort is directed”. When I ask myself what my intentions for the day/week/year are, versus what my goals are, I come up with very different answers.
Last week, I had a few days in my office. My desk was overflowing with documents that were once urgent but had now become simply interesting and the mountains of paper threatened to topple at any moment. My goal was to bring some order to my office work space, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the lovely maple desktop buried deep under the detritus.
I confess, that has been my goal for over a year! But the difference this week was my intention. I was determined not to get frustrated or impatient with the task, or let myself be beguiled into doing something I enjoy more (like connecting with my clients and colleagues)....