Posted tagged ‘Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County’

On the road to Lincolnton (another great clinic story)

September 10, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

(L) Amy Atwell, nurse liaison, and Jessica Hill, nurse practitioner

Amy Atwell (l), nurse liaison, and Jessica Hill, nurse practitioner

I’ve worked in many different companies — a bank, a telecommunications firm, a branding agency — but none of these places afforded me the vast and varied experiences like the ones I’ve had working for a hospice organization.  I’ve been in patient homes, in long-term care communities, clinics, and in hospice houses and I’ve traveled through numerous counties in North and South Carolina to meet families and collect stories.  The opportunities are seemingly everywhere.  That’s not surprising when you take into account the outstanding care we offer our patients; they are usually more than happy to share their experiences with us.

So that’s how I found myself on the road to Lincolnton a few weeks ago, ready to once again put on my listening ears and take notes.  We recently started holding a palliative care clinic at Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County (HPCLC) and it was high time for me to check it out.

I’d been to the palliative clinic at Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville a couple of times before I visited this clinic at HPCLC.  Both experiences were completely eye-opening and wonderfully educational.  But one was very different from the other.  The patients and families I sat with at the hospice house received advice and counseling about maintaining quality of life and accessing support; in Lincolnton, the patients were concerned with quality of life too, but the discussions rotated more around symptom management.  (Disclosure: At LDHH-H, the patients I observed had dementia while the patients in Lincolnton were cancer patients — very different situations and goals of care.)  So, from my observations, the clinic in Lincolnton felt more like a traditional “doctor’s visit” while the clinic at LDHH-H felt more like a counseling session.

There was one thing, though, that both clinics had in common: the clinicians were out-of-this-world fantastic.  In Lincolnton, I met Amy Atwell, nurse liaison, and Jessica Hill, nurse practitioner.  They were both utterly charming and approachable — qualities that (I believe) are crucial for interacting with chronically sick patients.  And what’s more important, it was so very apparent that Amy and Jessica care deeply about their patients.  They do not offer mere lip service; everything they say comes from a blend of engaged mind and passionate heart.  They are both intentional and well-meaning in their actions and the counsel they offer.

I watched them interact with two patients that day.  Both patients were women, both had cancer.  The process was the same with each  —  Amy, the nurse liaison, spoke with the patient first and Jessica would follow up.  Amy counted and documented medications, asked about pain levels, and took vitals.  She asked about their eating habits, took their weight, and made sure they understood the timing of their pain medications.  Obviously very familiar with her patients, she joked with them, was sympathetic, delightfully “bossy”, and wholeheartedly supportive.

Jessica (the NP) would come in after Amy was finished.  She asked more questions of her patients, probing a little deeper into their mental state.  She asked about their anxiety levels, and how their pain was affecting them.  The first patient she saw, Deborah, was still receiving radiation; Jessica gave her tips on how to deal with the side effects.  (“Radiation loves protein,” I heard her say.  Who knew?)  She was able to explain what happens to the body during treatment in a way that made complete sense, using layman’s terms that even I could understand.  Jessica praised Deborah for accomplishments that she’s made since she started coming to the clinic two months ago — staying on top of her pain, and making good food and lifestyle choices.

HPCLC patient Kim with her son, Steven

HPCLC patient Kim with her son, Steven

The second patient that day, Kim, was a true “success” story.  Several months ago, the pain and nausea from her disease and treatment were so bad that she literally couldn’t get out of bed.  But since starting her visits to the clinic in April, her pain and symptoms are under control, she’s been able to eat, and has even gained a few pounds.  When Amy and Jessica saw her, they both had nothing but compliments — Kim had recently cut and colored her hair and, on that day, she had even put on makeup. (Another disclosure: Kim knew she was going to be observed and potentially photographed so she came prepared!)

Kim will be facing a detailed surgery soon and, understandably, had some concerns (I believe the words “dreading it” were used) over what would be happening.  Jessica calmly walked her through the steps of the procedure (again using terms that everyone in the room understood) and I watched as Kim visibly relaxed.  Jessica has an unbelievable knack for explanation.  She doesn’t sugarcoat but she doesn’t make it sound scary either.  She seems to sense the emotions that her patients will experience before they do and, as such, she tailors her words to compensate for those potential fears.  It’s a ministry of sorts that is extremely inspiring to witness.

Kim came to the clinic with her son, Steven.  Steven is Kim’s primary caregiver, sharing his mother’s journey and all the ups and downs that come with cancer treatment.  They both could not say enough good things about the HPCLC clinic and their interactions with Amy and Jessica.  They told me that coming to the clinic is so different from other doctor appointments.  I heard, “They don’t talk down to us here,” and “They spend as much time with us as we need.”

The mindsets and attitudes are just different here, born from a true desire to help combined with personal experience and perspective.  Jessica’s own father has cancer so she has been on both sides of the stethoscope.  She inherently understands the fear of watching a loved one fight this awful disease yet she also has the medical background and the clinical ears to assimilate information.  She acknowledges, though, that assuming the “loved one” role is often much harder than the “nurse practitioner” role.  Therefore, her empathy for her patients is real; her motivation to offer peace of mind is completely true and one hundred percent earnest.

I walked away from our Lincolnton office once again completely impressed with the staff members who work for this organization.  Like so many others I’ve had the fortune to observe, compassion, care, and concern simply radiate from the faces of Amy Atwell and Jessica Hill.  That, along with their dynamic personalities, goes a long way toward disproving the stereotype that “going to the doctor” is stressful and awful.  They had their patients laughing and smiling, a welcome relief (I would imagine) from dealing with cancer day in and day out.  It was truly a sight to behold and an experience that I won’t soon forget.

I’m telling you what.  You just don’t have days like that when you work at a bank.

Heartfelt gift

August 5, 2015

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

heart painting for LDHH-HThe painting hangs on the wall at Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville, a beautiful reminder that love has a constant presence in this special place.  Perhaps it’s an homage to the hearts of the patients who were blessed to call LDHH-H their last home.  Or maybe it captures the kind hearts of the staff who so gently and passionately care for the patients and families inhabiting the rooms.  Most likely, it’s both of these things.

We have Gini Sellers, a Kindergarten teacher at Lincoln Charter School, to thank for the painting.  That’s because a while back, one of Gini’s fellow Kindergarten teachers was going through the process of getting her mother admitted to a local hospice house.  When visiting her mom, this teacher was struck by a painting of hearts she saw there; hearts that were all different sizes, shapes, and colors.  She came back to work and told her coworkers about it and the image stuck in Gini’s mind.

Soon enough, Gini found herself in a similar situation.  Her mother-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and came under the care of Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County in November last year.  When her symptoms could no longer be managed at her home, Gini’s mother-in-law was moved to Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville.  She passed away there about a week later.

Gini told me that they were expecting the hospice house experience to be terrible; they were frightened of every implication it held.  Instead, she found herself surprised at almost every turn.  She was touched that the staff members were just as concerned about her family’s needs as they were about her mother in law’s.  She was shocked at how hands-on the doctors were.  She was not expecting the environment to be so comfortable and she certainly didn’t think that she would describe the experience as positive.  But it truly was.

Through it all, Gini remembered that heart painting her coworker had told her about.  And an idea began to form.

All of the grade levels at Lincoln Charter School are required to complete a certain number of community service hours each year; the Kindergarten classes must complete five.  Gini thought that creating a heart painting (like the one she’d heard about) for LDHH-H would be the perfect service project to cross off that requirement.

heart painting hanging_LDHH

The heart painting hanging on the wall at LDHH-H

Hearts were drawn on a large canvas and children began painting, choosing the heart they wanted and the color they wished to paint it.  More and more hearts were added as the previous ones dried, creating a multi-layered (and extremely bright) effect.  All 66 Kindergarten students and their three teachers participated in the project.  The art teacher helped add the finishing touches.

The result is a beautiful, happy collage of color and texture with an all-encompassing, all-important theme — love.  It’s the sentiment Gini and her family felt at Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville, it’s the emotion that drove the creation of this beautiful piece of art, and it’s the strongest feeling we have for those we hold dear.  And this painting portrays exactly where we hold those precious ones — in our hearts.

Special thanks to Gini Sellers and the students at Lincoln Charter School for creating this beautiful painting for LDHH-H.  It is truly a special gift and is most appreciated!


July 25, 2014

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

pancakesPancakes are delicious.  And I’m pretty sure there aren’t many people who could argue that point.  What’s not to like about crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, warm circles of utter delightfulness??  Who would turn down a nice, tall stack of pancakes with butter and syrup dripping off the edges?  (If you would, I don’t want to hear it.  You’re warped in the head.)  My mouth is watering just thinking about it. . . .

So if you like pancakes and you like a good cause, then we’ve got the perfect event for you!  This Saturday, from 8-11am in Lincolnton at Fatz Café (1430 East Main Street), you can come out to the Short Stacks For Big Change Pancake Breakfast where you can indulge your pancake craving to your heart’s delight.  For a mere $8 (This is for adults.  It will be $5 for kids eight and under), you can eat a ton (three pancakes, sausage, bacon, orange slices, and a beverage) and you’ll feel great knowing that the proceeds will support our newly renovated and expanded Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County (HPCLC) office on Dontia Drive.

Want more incentive?  The Timken Foundation has promised to match every single dollar we raise for this new building.  That means that when you buy a ticket for $8, it’s like making a donation of $16!  Truly a win-win!  So bring your whole family out tomorrow to eat pancakes (and the fixin’s!) and show your support for Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County.  Oh, and any of you warped-in-the-head pancake haters out there don’t have to come.  We don’t feel like arguing with you.


Pancake haters need not attend, but we will take your donation (you know, because it will be matched)!  Visit the donation page on our website and choose Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County in the designation drop down menu.  Many thanks to the Timken Foundation for matching every gift made to the HPCLC building project until July 31.  For more information about the pancake breakfast, contact Julia Moore at 704.602.0903.

Are you listening? Do you hear?

April 28, 2014

by Carol Anne Lawler, HPCCR Communities of Faith Liaison

listeningThe above title constituted the theme of the United in Hope for Our Community Prayer Breakfast that I attended several weeks ago at First Christian Church in Lincolnton, NC.  The minister, Rev. Kathy Naish, raises her own chickens, and so breakfast was made with her own organic eggs, directly from her hen house.  She even made gravy, to the delight of a few of the more boisterous ministers, who clamored for sausage gravy, at every turn, in the preceding weeks. Breakfast was indeed tasty and it was only the precursor of what was to come.

Kathy Vinzant, Executive Director of the United Way in Lincoln County, was the speaker who shared her life story, which included a number of challenges as she grew up.  As an adult, working on the issues of domestic violence and child abuse, she told us about a woman who called her to say she really needed to talk.  Well, Kathy met with her in a school parking lot, and they talked for several hours.  She later found out the woman had planned to take her own life that very afternoon.  Are you listening?  Do you hear?

That was just one example among a number of other personal ways Kathy’s life has touched others.  She concluded her remarks by saying that she couldn’t sew, couldn’t cook, couldn’t sing, etc.  But that God had given her a life – to use.  And so she has, and still does, make a difference by working with United Way, an organization that has consistently been generous to Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County.

Those sitting at their tables were given a slip of paper with a prayer topic –within the community and in the world – for those who suffer and were in need of prayer.  In a day and age when almost every subject begins and ends divisively, words of connection, thoughts for healing, and intention for one’s highest good was the order of the day.  We accomplished much in a short hour and a half that Tuesday.

So how does a prayer breakfast in Lincolnton relate to Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region?  For one thing, the community was able to meet our Lincoln County chaplains, Earlynne Bartley and Walt Windley, who do a wonderful job of meeting people’s spiritual needs for our organization.  Second, as Faith Community Liaison, part of my role is to build relationships, provide education, and be a resource within the faith community.  I submit to you that relationships were deepened and friendships formed because we came together for the common good.  And as HPCCR President & CEO Pete Brunnick recently said at the unveiling of the new Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County office, “This is your hospice. We couldn’t do this without you.”

That is so true. We simply need to take more opportunities to come together around what unites us.  In hope.  One faith community at a time.  Or, one community coming together in faith.

Are you listening?  Do you hear?

New location, same exceptional care

April 4, 2014

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

HPCCR President & CEO Pete Brunnick (left) and Lincolnton mayor John O. Gilleland after the ribbon cutting on Thursday evening.

HPCCR President & CEO Pete Brunnick (left) and Lincolnton mayor John O. Gilleland after the ribbon cutting on Thursday evening.

Well, it’s official.  Enormous scissors were procured and a bright blue ribbon was ceremoniously cut.  The brand spanking new Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County office is open for business!

Ok, it’s actually been open for business for a few weeks, but last night we had our celebratory open house.  Lincolnton mayor John O. Gilleland and HPCCR President & CEO Pete Brunnick both said a few words and, together, they cut the ribbon in front of the door.  And the celebration began.

Over 75 attendees came to check out our spacious, new building.  Appetizers and cupcakes quickly disappeared as guests roamed the rooms and chatted with friends and neighbors.  It was a beautiful spring evening, the perfect night to debut our new home in Lincoln County.

Thanks to everyone who came to share the evening with Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County.  As Pete Brunnick mentioned in his remarks, “this is your hospice and we wouldn’t be here without the support of this community.”

With this new office space, we can better accommodate our growing staff and continue to offer our patients exceptional care.  Of course, we provided exceptional care when we were in smaller offices too.  Somehow, though, the big scissors and festive ribbon just make it, like I said, a little more “official”.


Janet Radford, Hospice Hero

January 28, 2014

by Shelly Johnston, Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County Volunteer Manager

Janet RadfordCongratulations to Janet Radford, chosen as the second Hospice Hero volunteering with Hospice and Palliative Care Lincoln County (HPCLC)!  Janet will be serving as a Patient/ Family Support Volunteer for the teams caring for patients at home and in long-term care communities.  She represents Circle Six of Trinity Lutheran Church of Vale, North Carolina where she serves as the Lay Visitation and Communion Assistant.

Janet began her volunteer career with HPCLC in September 2013, upon the completion of her patient and family volunteer training.  She is a registered nurse whose career spanned 35 years at medical facilities such as Crowell Hospital in Lincolnton and Frye Regional Hospital in Hickory.  After her retirement, Janet began volunteering for HPCLC; she recently concluded a home care assignment where she provided much-needed respite for the patient’s caregiver.

Janet became aware of hospice volunteer opportunities when hospice served her mother several years ago.  The amazing support given to her family at that time, along with a desire to provide comfort and dignity to others at life’s end, led to her decision to become part of the hospice care team as a volunteer.  To her care team she brings her strong biblical faith, her ability to care for others, and a listening heart.

Janet lives with her family in Vale, North Carolina.  She is an active volunteer with her church and enjoys meeting and helping others. Through her experiences at HPCLC, she hopes to give back to the community and to experience personal growth.

Thank you, Janet, for all you do and for being a Hospice Hero!

Would you like to be a hero in your community?  Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County invites you to support your neighbors by partnering with us and becoming a Hospice Hero.  With our organization, you will share your time and talents through volunteerism, and help our patients live well.

The HPCLC Hospice Hero program provides a multitude of benefits including the opportunity to serve community members who are in need of your support.  Volunteers will experience a wonderful training program that prepares them to serve in a variety of different and fulfilling capacities.  Additionally, volunteer assignments are flexible, allowing the option to share assignments with other volunteers from your organization.  For more information, please contact Shelly Johnston, volunteer manager, at or 704.602.0905.

A hero in Lincoln County

November 21, 2013

by Shelly Johnston, HPCLC Volunteer Manager

Amanda McDowell

Amanda McDowell

Hospice and Palliative Care Lincoln County (HPCLC) would like to congratulate Amanda McDowell —  its first official Hospice Hero.  She will be serving as a Patient/ Family Support Volunteer and represents Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Stanley, North Carolina where she is employed as the office manager.  Amanda began her volunteer career with HPCLC upon the completion of her patient /family volunteer training in September.  She is currently serving as an active Hospice Alternative Residence Team (HART) volunteer at the Brian Center of Lincolnton, North Carolina.

Amanda became aware of volunteer opportunities at HPCLC through her personal and professional association with Carol Ann Lawler who serves as the Communities in Faith Liaison for the organization.  Amanda’s personal association with Carol Ann began when she and her family received grief support upon the passing of a family member who was served by HPCLC.  Additionally, Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Church (Amanda’s employer) has partnered with HPCLC in several community events during which Carol Ann facilitated community faith services.

Amanda was amazed by the support given by the HPCLC volunteers who were willing to give selflessly of their time to help her family.  And because of her personal experience with these compassionate individuals, Amanda was drawn to the HPCLC volunteer program.  Amanda’s decision to serve as hospice volunteer is rooted in her desire to give to others so that she can make their difficult times a little easier.

Amanda lives with her family in Iron Station, North Carolina.  She is an active volunteer with her church and enjoys working with a variety of people.  Through her experiences at HPCLC, she hopes to give back to the community and to experience personal growth.

Thank you, Amanda, for all you do and for being a Hospice Hero!

Would you like to be a hero in your community?  Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County invites you to support your neighbors by partnering with us and becoming a Hospice Hero.  As a Hospice Hero, you will serve your community by sharing your time and talents and helping patients live well at end of life.  The HPCLC Hospice Hero program provides a wonderful training that prepares all volunteers to serve in a variety of different and fulfilling capacities.  Additionally, flexibility with volunteer assignments allows the option to share volunteer assignments with other volunteers from your organization.  For more information, please contact Shelly Johnston, HPCLC Volunteer Manager at  or 704.602.0905.