Relocating to the John & Cathy Belcher Campus in 2013 wasn’t just a change of scenery for Hospice of the Chesapeake. The leadership was excited with the property’s possibilities. Dreams of what could be done in the fields of hospice, palliative and bereavement care were supported by a community that responded with donations great and small. The renovation of the administrative building was followed in less than three years by the opening of the Rebecca Fortney Inpatient Care Center.
The next big vision was realized on Oct. 24 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the new Hussmann Palliative Care Center and the Lovelace Education and Training Center. It was attended by the Pasadena nonprofit’s team members, board members and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization President Edo Banach.
“No other hospice in this area has this kind of center where patients who are early in their journey of chronic illness can come in to be seen by a palliative care provider,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric Bush said. The center was made possible through a gift made by John and Terri Hussman, who said their decision to support the center stems from their own interest in meeting the increased needs of those in the community living with complex and life-limiting illness. “We know from our own family experience how valuable including palliative care can be in helping a loved one to determine and meet their goals for treatment, while providing the family with a partner in the process who knows the whole picture,” Terri said.
On the west side of the building, the education and training center is an entirely different space created to serve the organization’s clinical team, students and volunteers. It has space for the education team, a classroom, a multipurpose space and – what has Director of Education Elisabeth Smith so excited – a skills lab designed to replicate a patient’s bedroom and bathroom.
“I love skills lab. I think hands-on application of knowledge is so important,” Smith said. The lab’s mock patient bedroom has furnishings that mimic that of a home setting. Clinical teams and students have a safe space to practice skills on manikins and volunteers.
Bill and Rose Lovelace jumped at the opportunity to help fund the education center. It is a familiar role – they established the Lovelace Clinical Education Fund in 1999 in memory of his parents, who experienced the compassionate care of hospice at the end of their lives. “Rose and I know the importance of our nurses and clinical staff remaining current in the care and comfort of our patients. We are proud to be able to provide support to further enhance the opportunities for staff training in hospice and palliative care,” Bill said.
After the ribbon-cutting, the celebration moved to the campus’ conference center where staff and board members were treated to a frank conversation on the state of hospice and palliative care in the United States by Banach. Banach discussed the importance of advancing the conversation of advanced illness and end-of-life planning and shared more details on the recently launched #MyHospice advocacy campaign, which is meant to highlight how critically important hospice and palliative care are to Americans, while educating policymakers that hospice is an integrated care program that works and a high-quality benefit that matters.
“We are not just an industry – we are about person and family-centered care that honors, uplifts and supports,” Banach said. “Now is the time to come together to protect hospice as we know and love it today, and to make sure more people get the high-quality care that we offer, earlier.”