Posted tagged ‘HPCCR’

Comfort without being asked

April 19, 2016

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

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Ollie

I met the sweetest volunteer the other week. He had truly soul-searching eyes and an uncanny ability to know exactly what patients needed from him, including how he could comfort them, without being asked.

His name was Ollie and he was an eight-year old Labradoodle.

National Volunteer Week was last week and HPCCR made special efforts to recognize the amazing men and women who offer their time and love to the individuals (and their families) under our care. But what about the animals who do the same thing for our organization? It’s definitely harder to show our appreciation. But I think they know; they must certainly feel the intense adoration coming their way from everyone who meets them.

Pet therapy dogs are brilliant. Ollie knows the difference between when he can “be a dog” when it’s time to “go to work”. His owner, Robin, in fact uses those very words (“It’s time to go to work, Ollie!”) when she’s ready to load up and head to Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster, where you can find them each Wednesday afternoon.

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Ollie and his owner, Robin

Robin told me some amazing stories. But one of them really resonated with me and almost brought me to tears. She told me about the time when, after a patient had died, the family (who had particularly loved Ollie) requested that he participate in the ceremonial procession of walking behind the body to the waiting vehicle outside. This family had a long tradition of waving as they said goodbye and they all wanted to wave one last time to their loved one. As the vehicle drove away, all of the family members were waving and crying. Then they turned and looked down (in shock) to see Ollie lift his paw as well. Robin was not surprised. “He totally gets it. You don’t have to say anything.”

Ollie seems to sense when and where the patients need him. He’s been known to jump up on beds but he can also tell when lying on the floor next to them is the best way to offer comfort. He’s always calm, always full of love, and he never fails to bring a smile to at least one face in the room.

I watched Ollie in action that day. We entered the room and, I tell you, the entire mood shifted. Faces lit up, questions were asked about him, and stories were offered up about their own dogs. There was hardly a second when a hand was not on Ollie’s head or stroking his unbelievably soft ears.

And when it was time to go, he knew that too. He moved on to the next room, ready to offer exactly the kind of comfort they needed. Without being asked.

For more information about pet therapy or volunteering with Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, visit our website, hpccr.org or call us at 704.375.0100.

 

 

The power in one word

April 13, 2016

by Carol Anne Lawler, HPCCR Faith Community Educator

one word imageOne of the benefits of being the Faith Community Educator for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region is the privilege of presenting information to faith communities and other groups about some aspect of end-of-life care. We often say we can’t ‘add years to your life’, but we can ‘add life to your years’. To that end, I developed a Healthy Aging presentation to do just that! My goal is to communicate how our mind, body, and spirit are all connected and when we do one thing it affects the other aspects of our lives as well. I have experienced this connection first-hand and would like to share a few observations.

In 2015, I had the opportunity to attend the School of the Spirit that consists of four retreats over the course of the year to deepen and expand the participants’ spiritual life. One of the practices is called Centering Prayer. In this form of meditation, rather than focus on the breath or on using a mantra, each person chooses a ‘sacred word’ that is said when one’s thoughts begin to veer off course. The word is used as a gentle reminder to return one’s mind and energies to meditate. The sacred word effectively reminds me of what I know to be true.

Not only has the power of a single word been helpful in my spiritual life, my body has witnessed the power of a single word as well. Let me explain. Since our children have become adults and are now living on their own, my husband and I have more time to pursue activities that are of interest. We can frequently be seen at the Dowd YMCA taking a cycle or ‘spin’ class, as it is called, most Saturday mornings and/or Thursday evenings. When the instructor wants to motivate the class to go faster, she will say the word PUSH! Because of my competitive spirit (even with myself), I began saying PUSH…PUSH… PUSH…(to myself of course), and to my amazement, I watch my speed increase. If, by saying a single word, I can help align my spirit to reflect my values and increase my peddle speed on my stationary bike, what can you and I accomplish with a single action toward what is good?

I am reminded of a quote I heard when I was just 16 years old. (My long-term memory serves me well.) I was taking the classroom part of Driver’s Education in the summer and our instructor wrote these words on the blackboard:“I am but one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something….and by the grace of God, I will do the one thing I can do.” I am convinced; there is at least one thing you and I can do to add healing to the world. The recipe for change, then, is this: change a word + change an action = positive results!

When I was young I long sought the answers to life’s important issues. Now that I am older, I am convinced that asking the right questions holds the key to what matters most.

Here are few questions for consideration: How have I loved this hour? Whom have I helped? How have I lived my principles? As we move into spring may we remember the power of a single word and the strength of a single action can not only add life to our years, it can add new life to our world.

The above article will be published in the summer edition of All About Seniors, a comprehensive resource and referral directory available in North and South Carolina for older adults, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

Thank you, docs!

March 30, 2016

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

DocDay_logo_2016Today is National Doctors’ Day.

You might not know it, but we have thirteen doctors on our staff at HPCCR. They are not all full-time, but they are fully dedicated to our mission — all the time.

Our doctors have a personal reason for being here. Some have made end-of-life care a career for many years. Some have retired from previous careers and are finding a second turn here at HPCCR. Some have had personal experiences with hospice care or palliative medicine and decided that they wanted to be involved in some way. But they all have one thing in common — a passion for helping patients at end of life. Their presence brings peace of mind to patients and their loved ones.

So our message today is simple. To our HPCCR doctors and all other doctors caring for patients, thank you. Thank you for your dedication to the fragile human beings who depend on you. And thank you for offering your knowledge and expertise to provide relief. We certainly owe you — full-time, all the time.

Going “home”

March 17, 2016

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

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Zahyra Alvarez

What is home to you? Is it where you were born? Where you grew up? Or where you’ve lived the longest?

Or is home less of a place and more of a concept? Home could be wherever your spouse is. Or your children. Or your beloved pooch.

But it can be more complicated than that. Because often, it’s a combination of those things — places and people. That’s certainly the case for one of our patients, Zahyra Alvarez.

Zahyra was born in Honduras but came to the United States over 20 years ago with her husband and two children. They originally settled in California but they made their way to North Carolina and that’s where they’ve stayed.

Zahyra is 57 years old and Charlotte is home now. She lives with her daughter, Paola, and two adorable grandchildren. Her son is nearby in Salisbury and her sister is just up the road in Hendersonville.

But so many of her family are still in Honduras, including her mom whose 85th birthday is on Saturday. Zahyra is one of nine children (five girls, four boys) raised by this strong woman. NINE children and she did it all on her own. Not surprisingly, there will be a big birthday celebration to honor the matron of the family. In Honduras, of course.

Zahyra hasn’t been back to visit in almost two years, but she didn’t want to miss the festivities. It would be the first time in a while that all nine siblings would be together with their mother.

Making the trip is easier said than done, especially as a hospice patient. She recovered fairly well after recently having a kidney removed but her strength has been compromised. And she managed to catch pneumonia last week.

Then there’s the expense.

Flying internationally has never been cheap and when you have medical costs on top of everything else, money doesn’t exactly pop up from beneath couch cushions. Zahyra mentioned to her social worker, Allison, that she was planning to sell some crafts she’d made (she’s extremely creative) to raise money for airfare. But Allison had a better idea.

Allison suggested that HPCCR use the family fund to cover the cost of the tickets. The family fund is a reserve of money (funded largely by employee participation) used to help patients cover a particular cost that is extremely important. In the past we’ve used it for various reasons — winter clothing, a suit for a funeral, appliances, or bug extermination.

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Zahyra’s daughter and eight-month-old granddaughter

This time we’re using it for tickets. Zahyra is leaving tomorrow, along with her sister, to fly to Honduras for two weeks to celebrate her mother’s birthday and spend time with her family. HPCCR is sending her “home”.

I use the quotations intentionally. Because after speaking with Zahyra, she made it clear that North Carolina is her physical home; she loves it here and told me that she doesn’t necessarily miss Honduras. But I can tell the old saying holds true for her: home is where the heart is. And here’s the rub. Her heart is with her family, but her family is in two separate places.

So she’s leaving home for “home”. Leaving her children and grandchildren in Charlotte for her mother and siblings in Honduras. And she’s doing it with a smile on her face and one of the most positive attitudes I’ve seen in any HPCCR patient.

When I asked Zahyra how she felt about everything coming together the way it did she told me, “Nothing is coincidence. I have angels because God has sent me a lot of them.” Many of those angels are in her hospice care team, the individuals who are making sure she’s in the best shape possible to travel. And certainly one of them is her social worker Allison, who erased the worry of raising money for two tickets to Central America.

As for the rest of the angels? May they stay close to Zahyra in every place she calls “home”, all the way until she reaches her heavenly one.

 

 

 

We won!

February 11, 2016

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

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The “big check”!

Well, we did it!

We beat Denver. I wish when I said “we” I meant our beloved Carolina Panthers, but alas, that was not the case on Sunday night.

But “we”, HPCCR, did beat The Denver Hospice in the food challenge. We went all out, gave it everything we had, and yesterday we were finally awarded victory.

Here’s the breakdown:

HPCCR has approximately 470 full time employees and we donated the equivalent of 115,741 pounds of food, resulting in about 246 pounds of food per FTE. Over the course of the competition week, more than $13,000 was collected in cash donations; the rest collected was in food.

The Denver Hospice, an organization with 313 full time employees, collected 2,143 pounds of food – almost seven pounds per FTE.

In my humble opinion, that’s a sound win.

Yesterday I went to the Second Harvest Food Bank (our chosen donation recipient) to take pictures of our presentation of “the big check”. While there, I had the great fortune to speak with Kay Carter, Executive Director, and Lisa Marie Nisely, Community Development Coordinator. The work they do is absolutely awe-inspiring. There was food stacked everywhere; it’s hard to wrap your mind around the number of people they feed each day.

And here’s something I didn’t really know until just recently — while donations of food are still very helpful, cash donations are actually even better because Second Harvest’s purchasing power is so much stronger than yours or mine.  We might think we’re getting a good deal at the supermarket, but they’ve got partners who allow them to buy at cost. So our donations give Second Harvest the ability to help the community to the fullest extent — more so than the extra canned goods in our pantries. Their impact is massive. It’s fantastic.

So there you have it. I don’t know about you, but I feel somewhat vindicated by our dominating win. Just like the Carolina Panthers, this organization and this community has heart. We love a challenge and we keep pounding at it until victory is within our reach. Unfortunately, from a football perspective, the victory barely slipped out of grasp for the home team this year, but the food challenge went our way and we couldn’t be more proud.

Now where are our rings??

 

We want to sincerely thank everyone who contributed to this challenge and helped us win — employees, vendors, partners, schools, communities of faith, neighborhoods, businesses, even other hospices in North Carolina. Your support was phenomenal and we are in your debt!  

 

 

 

 

Drop off food and help us win

February 2, 2016

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

Broncos vs Panthers Hospice spiritHere in the Carolinas, we are bona fide Panthers fanatics! We are so excited that our team is in the Super Bowl that we practically can’t stand it. After all, this game represents competition at its finest. And who doesn’t love a little competition??

Well, turns out HPCCR does. Because the gauntlet has been thrown all the way from Denver and we are up to the challenge. Raring to go. Oh, we are ALL IN!

Here’s the deal: The Denver Hospice and HPCCR will each collect as much food (and non-food items like dish detergent and shampoo) that they can until this Friday, February 5. The hospice that amasses the most items (measured by weight) per full time employee will win.

This is where you come in. YOU can help us win this friendly wager! Not to mention, you can also help us make a difference in our community. We will be taking donations of canned food or household items (list is below) at ANY of our locations between now and this Friday. The heavier the better (remember that weight measurement??) but we’ll take all your offerings! The Second Harvest Food Bank has been apprised of this competition and has kindly offered to come pick up our massive collection of goods at our locations.

Second Harvest is helping out another way too. If you prefer to make a cash/check/credit card donation instead of bringing in items, Second Harvest will give us ‘credit’ for seven pounds of food for every dollar donated.  If this option sounds like the way you want to go, please click here and select SUPER BOWL HOSPICE CHALLENGE where you are asked, “What brought you to the site today?”

It’s as simple as that. Now it’s time to rummage through your cabinets or go to the store and find the heaviest supplies you can (or pull out your credit card to donate).

Because you’ve heard the term “bury the competition”, right? Well, we are going to bury Denver Hospice. In a mountain of food. But, you know, we’ll do it friendly-like. With southern charm. We’ll take that gauntlet and mail it back to Denver with an RC Cola and a Moon Pie. Maybe a bag of grits.

And, oh yeah, GO PANTHERS!

 

Here’s the list of suggested items. Keep in mind, you can donate items that are not on this list as well:

Canned Meats
Chicken, turkey, ham, beef stew

Canned Fish
Tuna, mackerel, salmon

Canned Vegetables
Beans, corn, potatoes

Canned Fruits
Pears, apples, peaches

Other Items
Peanut butter, pasta, rice, deluxe macaroni & cheese, soup

Non-Food Items
Laundry and dish detergent, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, diapers