It was 1985, I was the Executive Director of Hospice of North Central Florida, a tiny hospice program in Gainesville, FL. when I was approached by a woman who lived in a small rural town to offer our hospice services there. Bettye Zowarka was very active in her community and volunteered for many groups. She simply did what was needed to be done, regardless of what city/state or federal agency did or did not offer in her area where three counties merged to create one small town.
Bettye was determined to have hospice offered to the residents of Keystone Heights and Melrose, Florida. I was determined to put her off until she lost interest. I did not want to expand our small hospice into a new rural area that was far from our office with little opportunity for growth. I was persistent in my tardiness in getting back to Bettye…she was more persistent in calling me to begin care.
“Just come out and give us a volunteer training, then we will at least know how to care for our...
Come back with me to November 22, 1995. I'm standing next to the bedside of one of the most beloved people in my life... my brother Michael, and he's dying.
It's painful to watch him wasting away. The sense of helplessness is profound. And yet he is surrounded by this wonderful group of people in this hospice facility who are making the experience of death one of dignity and grace instead of fear and despair.
On that day in 1995, I had been a Hospice Administrator for over 10 years. I could tell you the rules and regulations, the staffing patterns, and the budget. Hospice was in my head. It was my job.
But on that day... that day in 1995, standing next to my brothers bed, hospice came into my heart. And I have never been the same.
In my three decades of working in hospice, all across the U.S., I've discovered there are certain things that separate good hospices from great hospices. And it usually doesn't have...