Posted tagged ‘birthday’

Happy birthday to us!

March 8, 2016

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

38th birthdayIt’s March 8th, a very important day for HPCCR. It’s our birthday (yay!) And, contrary to the way many of us feel about getting older, we absolutely love it.

As of today, we’ve been incorporated for 38 years. That’s a long time! To date we’ve cared for well over 40,000 hospice patients and even more family members. We’ve also offered palliative care to individuals facing life-threatening illness, grief support to countless community members, and educational presentations in venues across our service area. We’ve grown so much — from serving just Mecklenburg County when we first started in 1978 to now serving 11 counties in both North and South Carolina.

And we love getting older because, like fine wine and your favorite pair of jeans, HPCCR just get better with age. Each additional year means more experience. More unique patients to learn from. More outstanding care. It’s confirmation that we are doing our job and supporting our community in the best possible way.

Each person in this organization makes it possible to celebrate March 8 again and again with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Because ultimately, we are all in it for the same reason — to support our patients and the people who love them. To make end of life honorable, peaceful, and beautiful for all of them.

So today we light candles and make a wish. We close our eyes tight and imagine a community where people think about end of life before they have to. We wish for broad acceptance of (and appreciation for) the many benefits of hospice care.

Needless to say, HPCCR will continue to enjoy our March 8ths, getting older and better each year. That may seem like an impossible task, but hey, if George Clooney can do it, so can we.


Tickling the insides

September 24, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

Irene Deberry_Sardis Oaks

Irene Deberry

It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s just something about a birthday cupcake that will tickle your insides and make you smile.  Oh sure, there are people who profess to hate their birthdays.  But I simply can’t believe that the act of blowing out a candle that sits atop a delicious and perfectly proportioned tiny cake could make someone actually mad.

And because at HPCCR we know the simple joy that a cupcake can bring on one’s natal anniversary, we try to make sure our patients feel loved on their day.  Case in point: back in July, our volunteer department was able to procure a dozen cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of Irene Deberry, one of our patients living at a skilled nursing facility.  Irene was turning 90, a huge milestone by anyone’s account, and her family was coming into town to help her celebrate.  Because Irene is a woman definitely worth celebrating.

Irene was a fiercely independent, southern woman who lived alone until she fell and broke her arm in March last year.  Her injury required surgery and while they were inserting the breathing tube for the general anesthesia, they discovered a mass in her throat.  A cancer diagnosis soon followed, along with some worsening symptoms of dementia.  Knowing that she could no longer live at home, Irene was moved to Sardis Oaks skilled nursing facility, where she currently resides.

In March, after having quickly diagnosed Irene’s cancer, the doctors gave her a feeding tube so that she wouldn’t have to swallow food.  But that didn’t seem to sit well with Irene — she lost weight and was not happy.  She was so hungry that she ended up taking food off of the nurse’s cart.  After conversations with Irene’s family and her doctors, it was agreed that they would remove the feeding tube and let her eat solid food.

Irene hasn’t looked back.  She’s gained some weight back and is certainly happier.  And when presented with cupcakes by her hospice team on the day before her birthday, she did not hesitate.  Nor did she decline them the next day when her family arrived and more cupcakes were passed around.

Those cupcakes were a celebration of Irene’s birthday, sure.  But they were more than that.  They were a celebration of her life and her ability to still enjoy it, despite dementia and a terminal illness.  It was a celebration of making her wishes known so that she could enjoy tiny, delicious cakes to acknowledge the day she was born.  And when you look at that face, you just know that those cupcakes tickled her insides all the way down.

Special thanks to the HPCCR volunteer department (especially Crystal England) as well as Dan Morris, Irene’s social worker and Jonnie Waldo, Irene’s loving companionship volunteer.  They had a party for Irene at Sardis Oaks the day before her birthday, complete with said cupcakes, flowers, and cards.  Irene could certainly feel the love!  

Party time!

March 10, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

?????????????????????????????????????????It’s time to pull out the paper party hats, turn off all the lights, and fire up some candles!  We’ve got a lot to celebrate this week at HPCCR!  If it were up to me, I would have baked a cake (it’s kind of my thing), but the people in my office would have (lovingly) kicked me out the door and locked it firmly behind them.  (Summer is right around the corner, after all!)

Anyway, on to our celebrations.  On Sunday, Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region turned 37 years old.  That might not be old for us humans, but trust me, for a hospice organization, 37 years puts you in the class of “seasoned”, to say the least.

Also, on this very day five years ago (my, how time has flown!) I published the very first post on our blog, Hospice Matters.  Five years.  I actually can’t believe it.

First let’s talk about HPCCR.  We became an organization on March 8, 1978.  But we didn’t take our first patient until November of 1979.  And then we took eight more that year, bringing our total to a whopping count of nine.  Ok, let’s compare.  In 2014, we admitted over 3,000 hospice patients and somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 palliative patients.  That’s some serious growth, folks.  In fact, since that first patient was admitted back in 1979, our total hospice admissions to date (through December 2014) is over 40,000 patients.  Not to mention the fact that we have grown from serving just Mecklenburg County in NC to now serving 11 counties in North and South Carolina.   That’s just outstanding.  It means that we have touched the lives of over 40,000 families in our large region, showing compassion and exquisite care to each and every one.  Every person in this organization factors into this equation.  Because, ultimately, we are all in it for the same reason.  To make end of life honorable, peaceful, and beautiful.

On to the blog.  I am very proud to say that during the five years that this blog has been published, not one week has gone without a post.  Not one.  This post, in fact, will be our 356th.  Our readership continues to increase as our social media presence grows and, as this blog habitually goes out on Facebook and Twitter, the reach of our blog is several thousand people each week.  Upshot?  Several thousand people know just a little bit more about end-of-life care than they did the week before.  Hospice Matters is a virtual stage with which we educate our community and where we demonstrate the impact of hospice care on real people who have benefited from our services.  These stories honestly write themselves; they are always emotional, sometimes uplifting, occasionally heartbreaking, but always worth reading.  They reflect the very heart of what we do and I am overwhelmingly honored to (so often) be their conduit to the “outside” world.

So in honor of these important “birthdays”, I am going to close my eyes and make a wish.  A wish that hospice care becomes the preferred choice at life’s end, that the fear surrounding death be relinquished, and that our enthusiasm for life continues until the very last beat of our hearts.

Of course, you can’t make a wish without cake. . . .

The man who mapped the world

April 21, 2014

by Larry Dawalt, HPCCR Senior Director of Spiritual & Grief Care Services

Caring for a veteran is a privilege for us here at Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region. Caring for a veteran like Robert Brewer is both a privilege and an honor.  Brewer, who turned 98 on April 19, served as a map maker in World War II.  His work was extremely valuable to both the United States and the allied forces as it came long before the days of satellite imagery and Google Maps.  When the Army needed a map then, it had to make it; and Brewer was one of the best.

Mark Byrd and Robert Brewer

Robert Brewer, right, and his social worker Mark Byrd

Brewer was born in Pittsburgh and later moved to Canton, Ohio where he worked at the headquarters of the Timken Corporation. When he was drafted in 1945, he first went to basic training, but then qualified for a special position in photo-topography at Fort Belvoir near Washington, DC.

“My Dad’s specialty was math,” Brewer said.  “I loved the stuff he taught me.  We used mathematics to make the maps.”

From pictures and measurements sent from overseas, Brewer and his colleagues would draft the maps used to make important logistic military decisions.  His calculations and drawings became a foundation for eventual victory in Europe.  For his work, he was awarded a WWII Victory Medal.

After he was honorably discharged, he worked as a mechanical engineer for Bendix Corporation.  He also fathered two sons, Douglas and Ronald, who served in the Vietnam War.  After the death of his first wife, he met a widower, Pat, with whom he moved to Charlotte in 1978.  They have been married for 35 years.

Brewer speaks softer and slower than he used to, but his eyes still light up as he tells stories of the lessons he learned from his father and how he utilized them for our country.  His soft white hair and gentle wisdom are reminiscent of John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach who was also a Midwesterner.  Brewer often smiles when he talks to his medical social worker, Mark Byrd, who is also a veteran.  As Brewer walks his hospice journey, he has beside him a man who understands both the joys and the heartaches of service.

He also has a hospice team that values and appreciates our Veterans and strives daily to provide for them the best of care. So today, we as an organization renew our commitment to serve those who have served our country; and we send birthday wishes and thanks to a young man from Canton who helped map the world.

Hospice is about life

August 30, 2012

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

When you work for a hospice organization, the one thing that you take away with you at the end of each day is the knowledge that time should not be wasted.  We are only given this one life and you never know when your “time” will come.  I know that’s a depressing thought, but at the same time, it’s a huge blessing to understand and embrace this concept.  If you do, it’s likely that when you’re on the path to meet your maker, your regrets will be few.  But the experiences you’ve had and the people you’ve loved will fill your heart and you will know that YOU LIVED.

That’s why we should celebrate life.  Every day.  Sure, there are days that are just plain miserable, but there are just as many that leave you wanting to do the 24 hours all over again. 

Birthdays should always be like that.  We should cherish every one — the enjoyment shouldn’t stop at 40.  In fact, we need to get rid of this stigma that 40 is “over the hill” because you know what, folks?  If that saying is correct, then we reach the end of the hill at 80.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t accept that plan.  I may be 40, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m not over the hill; I’m still climbing it.  I’m not sure what age I’ll be when I’m over it, but I’m betting (okay, hoping) that it’s a long time from now.

So now I invite you to meet Billie, a patient of Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region who recently turned 81.  I don’t think she’s on the other side of that hill yet either.  In fact, when you watch this video, you’ll see that Billie is definitely still in the climbing phase.         

Here’s the back story: Billie is a so-called “Vegas girl” and for her birthday, she really wanted to see Elvis.  So Billie’s HPCCR social worker, Dan, got permission to use our “family fund” to pay for an Elvis impersonator (Chuck Ayers, “Charlotte’s Voice of Elvis”) to come to the assisted living center where Billie lives.  Every resident there was able to witness the concert.  And let me tell you, it was certainly a sight to see. 

Decked out in his tight, bright red suit with golden suns appliquéd all over it (Chuck calls the outfit “burnin’ love”), he sashayed out and proceeded to belt out some of the King’s classics.   Are You Lonesome Tonight?, Teddy Bear, Suspicious Minds, Can’t Help Falling in Love — he sang them all and he did it while making the rounds of the room, kissing every lady in sight.  I think the birthday girl got the most smooching, but that’s only fair seeing as how the celebration was in honor of her. 

Watching this video makes you realize what hospice is all about.  It’s about birthday cakes and candles.  Kissing Elvis.  Enjoying every moment that is given to you because each one is a gift. 

It’s about relishing every step of the climb up that blasted hill and down the other side.  It’s about life.