Posted tagged ‘Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region’

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.


Today’s the DAY! #GivingTuesdayCLT

December 1, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

GTCLT12_1 blueWe’re so excited we can hardly stand it! The day we’ve been planning for (and when I say we, I mean HPCCR and 108 other not-for-profits) is finally here! It’s #GivingTuesdayCLT! That means today we’ll find out if we reached our goal of raising $2 million for the populations we collectively serve in the Charlotte region!

We’ve been tweeting, updating Facebook statuses, sharing Instagram photos, sending emails, and writing newsletter articles about #GivingTuesdayCLT. But you know what? It ultimately comes down to you.

That’s right. You. The loyal supporters of these 109 not-for-profits will be the real heroes today. We couldn’t do it without your generosity. Without your vision of how this kind of money can help your neighbors in need. You will be the reason why struggling families will have meals, children will receive healthcare services, pets will be adopted, families of service members will receive financial support, cancer research will be funded, students will have school supplies. . . . the list of how you’re helping is truly endless.

And you will also be the reason why HPCCR will be able to continue funding Chameleon’s Journey (our grief camp for kids and teens), why we will be able to care for anyone who needs our exceptional end-of-life care (regardless of their ability to pay), and why we can offer community education everywhere in our service area.

So have you made a donation to HPCCR for #GivingTuesdayCLT? If not, do you want to? It’s easy — just click on our donation form to make your gift and then choose #GivingTuesdayCLT in the drop down menu for the question, “What brought you to the site to give today?”

Thank you. Seriously, thank you so very much. On behalf of all of us participating in #GivingTuesdayCLT, we can’t begin to express our gratitude for helping us reach this wonderful goal. There is a powerful surge of kindness surrounding this holiday season and your generosity has helped to ignite it.

May this spirit of compassion surround you and your family throughout this wondrous time.



Fate, coincidence, and an ALS clinic

August 27, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

Wes and sandra leconte

Sandra and Wes Bobbitt, September 2011, two months after diagnosis

There were two patients that day.  I could have been assigned to either one but (as far as I’m concerned) fate intervened.  And that’s how I met Wes and Sandra Bobbitt.

A few weeks ago, my coworker Heather, an HPCCR Education & Resource Manager, asked if I would like to join her at the ALS clinic in Charlotte to shadow a patient.  As I have a slight connection to ALS (which I will explain later), I quickly agreed.  We met there early on a Friday morning, both of us a little nervous and not knowing what to expect. Which is probably a good thing.  Going in blindly, without preconceived notions, is like giving an artist a blank canvas — you have no idea what the final outcome will be, and while the process to get there will be layered and complicated, you know it will be genuinely real.  That’s how it was for me, anyway.

Even though my emotions were admittedly all over the place, it was an unforgettable experience.  The day was both heartbreaking and heartwarming, with a little bit of massive coincidence thrown in for good measure.  And I was only there for four hours.

Two patients had agreed to be shadowed.  One of the patients was under the care of HPCCR and the other was under the care of a different hospice.  Heather, whose job is to stay current with the competition, went with the patient not under our care.  I  joined Wes Bobbitt and his wife, Sandra, for the first half of what would prove to be a very long day for them, indeed.

The ALS clinic is a brilliant concept.  I’d never really thought about it, but it’s very daunting for patients with this disease to get out and about.  So twice a quarter, the Carolinas Neuromuscular Disease/ALS-MDA Center holds a day-long clinic where patients can see the entire ALS team at once.  Throughout the day, they’ll meet with the nurse, doctor, pulmonologist, social worker, occupational therapist, speech therapist, the person who adjusts their wheelchair, the person who will talk to them about insurance, the person who will help them with augmentative communications (ways to communicate other than speaking), and a nutritionist.  They will arrive at 8am and can potentially be there until 4 or 5pm.  That’s a very exhausting day, but you’re packing in over a month’s worth of appointments.

“My” patient, Wes Bobbitt, was diagnosed with ALS in July 2011. Wheelchair bound, his disease has progressed to the point where he can no longer move his legs, breathe on his own, or swallow food or liquids.  He has limited movement with his arms and neck, but can still nod his head and use his hands to communicate (in a limited capacity) with an iPad.  Nevertheless Wes is cheerful, friendly, and maintains a great sense of humor.  Not to mention, he’s a very good sport for allowing a complete stranger to shadow him to multiple meetings with medical professionals who are discussing very personal issues.

I watched as they weighed Wes and took his vitals.  I listened as the nurse asked his wife, Sandra, about his symptoms and how he’s been doing since his last visit.  I joined them as they visited the ALS doctor, the social worker, and the pulmonologist.  I hung out with them in the clinic lobby (where they talked to the wheelchair guru about the tweaks needed to make Wes more comfortable) as they waited for their turn to visit each of these individuals.  I talked to Sandra and asked questions.  I observed.  And I learned.

ALS is a terrible disease.  It robs the body’s ability to function yet leaves the mind intact.  ALS moves slowly with some patients and like a rocket with others.  The patient that my colleague Heather followed was diagnosed over ten years ago and is still talking and breathing on his own.  Wesley was unable to eat or drink after just three years.

One of the most profound and tragic symptoms of the disease, in my opinion, is the loss of communication between patient and loved ones.  There’s an inherent change in the relationship dynamic simply because it becomes so much harder to “talk”.  Wesley must depend solely on his iPad to communicate and as his body grows weaker, his ability to use the device slows as well.  And now, given the effort it takes to type letters onto the screen, Wes is relegated to communicating only his most basic needs — requests to move his head position, to take his medications, or to let Sandra know whether he is too warm or cold.  I asked Sandra if they have actual “conversations” anymore.  She replied that she mostly talks and he listens, a substantial and heartbreaking contrast, I would imagine, from when their marriage began 35 years ago.

Sandra has kept her full-time job; she acknowledges that staying busy helps her not get too overwhelmed by stress.  They need caregivers in place, though, to cover the hours when Sandra is not at home.  When Wes first started needing help, friends from church would come over, bring a meal, and watch a movie with him.  As his disease progressed, however, Sandra realized they needed nurses.  They also decided to bring in hospice.

Unlike some families, the Bobbitts were not scared of the hospice concept and were not resistant when the social worker at the clinic first broached the topic.  Sandra’s aunt was under hospice care for two years and her mother was also very briefly under hospice care before she died.  So Sandra and Wes understand the value that the hospice care team brings to the patient and the patient’s family.  Indeed, the HPCCR care team has been an immense help to them since Wes came under care in February.  Their nurse comes once a week and their nursing assistant comes twice a week to help with bathing and other tasks.  They also receive regular visits from a social worker, and the hospice physician comes once a month as well.  All of Wes’ medications are now provided through hospice; that alone is a major convenience.

At the same time, Wes and Sandra are under no illusions; they know what the future will eventually bring.  Advance directives are in place and they are even working with a writer to help with Wes’ obituary.  But in the meantime, they are making the most of their time together, and with their two children.  Their daughter is getting married this fall and Wes plans to “walk” her down the aisle.  A huge fan of Phish, Wes is currently trying to talk his daughter into a father-daughter dance to one of the bands’ songs.  (I told you he has a sense of humor.  Thinking his daughter will go along with this plan also speaks to his optimism!)

Now we come to my connection to this disease.  Unfortunately, my sister’s father-in-law, Roger, passed away in January from Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS), a very slow-moving form of ALS.  Roger lived with it for over 25 years.  I knew him for the last ten of those years and I saw how difficult it was — for him, his wife, his children, and his friends.  Roger had great support, though, from some amazing caregivers, from friends, and from his church.  The very church, in fact, where Wes and Sandra’s daughter will be getting married this fall.  That was the first coincidence I uncovered.  Turns out Wes and Sandra knew Roger and are still friends with Roger’s wife, Dianne.  The talented writer who helped write Roger’s obituary is the same man helping Wes and Sandra.  He’s got quite the job ahead of him because Wes has had a full life.

The photo of my nephew's baptism taken by Wes

The photo of my nephew’s baptism taken by Wes at Myers Park United Methodist Church

By trade, Wes is a photographer.  He worked for years at the Charlotte Observer, but is also an accomplished travel photographer.  And then there are the weddings, corporate events, and church pageants he attended, the fruits of which round out his portfolio.  The walls of his church, Myers Park United Methodist, are lined with his beautiful work.  There’s one piece in particular on those walls, though, that is special to my family.  In one final fantastic coincidence, Wes was the photographer at my nephew’s baptism over eight years ago.  He took a gorgeous photo of my infant nephew staring into the eyes of Dr. Howell, the senior pastor of the church.  This cherished image hangs in Myers Park United Methodist Church just as it does in my sister’s house — it’s one of the first photos you see, in fact, as you walk through her front door.

There were two patients that day — for me and my coworker.  But there were many, many more patients at the ALS clinic that Friday morning.  I was struck by the camaraderie among those families; all in various stages parceled out by this unforgiving disease, but living through it together, supporting each other.  I was struck by Sandra and Wes Bobbitt, strong in the face of challenge, living life with optimism and grace.  And then I think of my nephew’s face, the innocence in it on his christening day, perfectly captured by Wes in that photograph.  It made me realize something.  We start this life out, never knowing where we’ll be led and what obstacles will lay in our path.  But our attitude, how we face those obstacles, determines our happiness.  The families I saw that day had chosen to pour their energy into living their lives the best way they know how.

It’s a humbling lesson that I could not have learned without fate and a little bit of coincidence.

Using our gifts

May 28, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager


Artist Bill Ward at work

Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region received a very welcome surprise a few months ago when we learned that we had been included in the will of painter William “Bill” Ward.  It was an unexpected blessing because Bill was not under the care of HPCCR when he died.  And while it took us a while to get to the bottom of this story, his generous gesture let us know that someone he loved dearly must have benefited from hospice.  What’s more, it clearly made an impact on him.

Bill never married nor had children. But he had a very close relationship with his grandniece, Mary Frances Lawing, because of their joint love of art. For many years, Bill taught art to elementary and middle school students and throughout his life he was a prolific painter.  Modest to a fault, he never had an art show of his own or sold any of his creations.  He constantly practiced, however, taking inspiration from some of his favorite artists – Matisse, Picasso, and other post-impressionist painters.


One of Bill Ward’s pieces

When Bill died, he left all of his tangible property to Mary and dictated that, once liquidated, the proceeds should be donated to HPCCR.  Bill had painted hundreds of pieces in various mediums – oils, acrylics, pastels, and watercolors.  He had also crafted some sculptures and even built several pieces of furniture.

Bill originally came to Charlotte at the request of his sister Edith (Mary’s grandmother) and he lived with her until she passed away in 1993.  Turns out Edith was cared for by Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region. Bill was deeply touched by the experience; he was especially moved by the compassion the care team showed his sister and the rest of his family.

Because of Bill’s artistic gift, he was able to give HPCCR an amazing financial gift.  And we can pass his gift forward, in the form of exceptional of end-of-life care, to those who need us most.  A beautiful blessing indeed.

Want to ensure that future generations will benefit from hospice care? Contact Pam Janowicz Gray at 704.335.4324 to learn more about planned giving.

A life of meaning

January 28, 2015

by Carol Anne Lawler, HPCCR Faith Community Educator

Our most recent class of volunteer"trainees"

Our most recent class of volunteer”trainees”

For Hospice Month in November last year, our Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, Sheri Lowe, suggested that our team commemorate the month by doing volunteer work as our way of giving back to the community for all the ways the community gives to Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, enabling us to serve our the patients and families.  We brought in cans of food for a women’s shelter in South Carolina; made sandwiches at the Culinary Community School of Charlotte that we delivered to Family Forum, a place that cares for homeless and disabled veterans; and spent time at Sally’s YMCA in Denver. (Note: we were going to help with the walking trail, but when we arrived, we were needed to literally move dirt from one location to another to create a “GaGa Pit”,  a surface for a popular outdoor game at the Y.  Who knew?)  As we volunteered, team members appreciated the camaraderie, enjoyed the ensuing laughter, and felt good about being able to give back.

In this season of unrest, when there are protests in the streets, jet liner crashes, as well as personal tragedies, what seems to give life its meaning is the ability to move beyond one’s own world; to enter another by extending a hand of friendship, a ride to the store, or volunteering for some cause that benefits someone or something besides oneself.

As we enter this New Year, filled with new hopes and aspirations, consider volunteering for a cause near and dear to your heart.  You may decide you would like to be a volunteer for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region.  We have upcoming volunteer trainings on March 24, 26, 31, and April 2 from 5:30-9:00 pm at our Levine Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville (11900 Vanstory Dr.)  Simply go to our website for more information or call our main number at 704.375.0100, and ask for Volunteer Services.  In whatever you choose to do to give life meaning, may you be enriched in 2015.  Happy New Year!

A reason to love January

January 21, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

Soup on Sunday logo_50Raise your hand if you like January . . . . Ok, pretty sure there aren’t too many arms in the air.  But I get it.  January is a tough month to love.  The holidays, which were full of family, friends, and time off, have faded into memory.  We’ve still got about three months of cold weather to look forward to and spring break is almost that far away too.  So what is there to get excited about?

One word: soup.

That’s right, folks.  Soup on Sunday is BACK for its 15th year!  And just like every year before, it’s going to be amazing.  For three solid hours, you can taste some of the most delicious concoctions Charlotte chefs have to offer.  We’ll have vegetarian soups, soups with chicken and sausage, various chilis and bisques, and even a gluten-free recipe (yep, that’s right!) for those of you with sensitive bellies.

And there’s more than just soup.  There will be gorgeous, hand-made pottery to choose from, breads from Great Harvest Bread Company, Coca Cola products, and Bojangles sweet tea.  And there will be desserts.  I’m talking some serious chocolate, people!  The chefs from the participating culinary schools always come up with some breathtakingly beautiful, sweet creations to rival their scrumptious liquid creations.

Ok, so now let’s see a show of hands.  Yep, that’s what I thought.  When you walk out of the Phillip L. Van Every Culinary Arts Center, warmly and pleasantly full of delicious soup, you’ll realize something: Soup on Sunday gave you a reason to love January again.  You’re welcome.

Soup on Sunday takes place THIS SUNDAY, January 25, from 11 am until 2pm at the Phillip L. Van Every Culinary Arts Center on the CPCC campus. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. $30 will gain you general admission and the $40 Soup Lovers’ Special allows you to pick your very own handmade pottery bowl. Call Maribeth Burke at 704.335.4323 for more information. All proceeds support the programs and services of Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region.



The power of a single red rose

December 17, 2014

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager


The single Polaroid from their first wedding

These days, when you hear about someone getting married at 18, you immediately start to calculate the odds.  You ask, “What’s your bet that they’ll make it longer than a few years?”  Let’s be honest, it’s pretty rare.  I mean, you’re technically still a child at 18, right?  I know a lot of 18-year olds who can’t make decisions about dinner plans, much less a life partner.

But then you hear about a couple like Henrietta and Ian Hart.  They got married 45 years ago when Henrietta was just 18.  And it’s gone so well, they decided to do it again.

Here’s why.  Henrietta Hart has been living with cancer under hospice care since October.  She was doing well until a little before Thanksgiving; at that point, the decline seemed to speed up a little.  So Ian decided to make a grand gesture, a declaration of his abiding and true love for her.  He re-proposed.

You’ll need a little back story to help you understand the significance of his proposal.  (But this is also the best part of their love story, so of course I was going to share it anyway.)


The early days of their marriage

Over 45 years ago, when Henrietta met Ian, she was dating someone else.  As Ian got to know her, he was understandably smitten and he began to woo Henrietta in earnest.  One day, during the course of his wooing, Ian gave Henrietta a single red rose.  Well, the boyfriend was not pleased, to say the least.  He was not going to let some newcomer barge in and steal his girlfriend.  So he went out and bought a dozen red roses to dramatically present to his beloved.  A nice gesture, yes, but ultimately ineffective.  Not too long after that, Henrietta and Ian eloped by getting married at the courthouse.  A single Polaroid is all they have to commemorate that romantic day.

Back to present day.  A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, Henrietta was returning to her room from the bathroom when she came upon a completely unexpected scene.  A single red rose (of course) sat in a vase next to her bed and Ian was standing there, decked out in a suit.  He sweetly asked her to marry him again.  Henrietta, of course, said yes.  They began making plans to have the ceremony at their home on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which just happened to be the 45th anniversary of their first “walk down the aisle”.

happy couple

The bride and groom today

The big day came.  With their son and grandsons in attendance along with Henrietta’s sister and niece (who made a surprise visit), and a few other close friends to round off the guest list, the ceremony began.  Henrietta and Ian, both elegantly dressed, read personally written vows to each other as a Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region chaplain officiated.  Their words were touchingly beautiful and sincere.  Ian, in fact, was overcome with tears as he read his vows to his bride, “When we were married, no one thought we’d make it.  We became one and made a beautiful life together.  We had a family.  Now we celebrate, renewing the vows we said 45 years ago today.  I love you so much and I thank you for everything our lives have been.”

I wish I could have been there for this amazing ceremony, but I was at least fortunate enough to see a small part that was filmed.  You won’t be surprised to know that it was hard to hear the couple’s words over the sniffling of the wedding guests who were completely awash in the profound and poignant emotions of the moment.

Because this is true love, folks.

the kiss

“You may now kiss the bride.”

We don’t know how much time Henrietta and Ian have left with each other.  But, from what I understand, a new medication that the hospice nurse suggested is greatly helping with Henrietta’s pain, giving her back a bit of an appetite, and infusing her with some much-needed energy.  Right now, she’s simply looking forward to spending the holidays with her loving husband and the rest of her family.

As Ian said, no one thought they would make it.  But they did; they beat the odds.  Their long and great love story is living proof that wedding vows can indeed be upheld, that love does remain “through sickness and in health”.  And even though illness will take eventually take Henrietta away from Ian, his love for her will ultimately win the battle.  As Henrietta’s ex-boyfriend learned so long ago, single red rose will beat a dozen every time.