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A new home for Hospice

Ribbon cutting opens headquarters on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown

Ribbon cutting opens headquarters on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown

March 06, 2007

Hagerstown Mayor Bob Bruchey and Washington County Commissioners President John Barr participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony at Hospice of Washington County's new headquarters on Feb. 26.

They joined Hospice's Board President Doug Fiery, Medical Director Frederic Kass, III, Executive Director Susan G. Taylor, CFO Michael Smith, BFM Architect Norman Morin, Frank Traver of Eagle Construction and other members of the Hospice board, Richard Lenehan, Howard Rockwell and Ira Lourie.

The ceremony was in celebration of the newly renovated office which Hospice now owns at 747 Northern Ave.

Hospice has been serving county residents with life-limiting illnesses since 1980. The conception of hospice services in Washington County was the result of a handful of nurses and a physician recognizing the need for a special kind of care that focused on treating the patient, not the disease.

This special kind of care called hospice, brings comfort to the patient through aggressively treating pain and/or symptoms related to serious illnesses. Since its grassroots beginning at the Presbyterian Church on Prospect Street, Hospice has grown to be the community's trusted health care provider for hospice services.

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Today, the organization is comprised of 70 employees providing nursing, emotional, spiritual, grief support and volunteer services.

Comparable to national trends, the local health care organization has seen an increase in the number of individuals utilizing hospice services. Unlike the national trends, the county agency struggles with individuals accessing hospice services very late. During the ceremony, Board President Doug Fiery addressed this struggle by saying, "HWC continues to work on educating the public about accessing hospice services long before they ever think they need them and that physicians can serve their patients well by referring the patients so they receive quality coordinated care and family support,"

Dr. Frederic Kass III, medical director for Hospice since 1980, spoke during the dedication ceremony. He affirmed the importance of patients receiving hospice services sooner, by saying, "All too often patients and families miss out on the professional, compassionate care that the staff here at HWC can provide to them."

The expected length of stay in hospice care is months, not days, and the latter is occurring in nearly 25 percent of the individuals that elect hospice services through Hospice.

Increased community education programs and continual follow up as requested with individuals not currently eligible, are just some of the strategies that Hospice is implementing to address the low length of stay for individuals accessing hospice services. Realizing that anyone can refer or inquire about hospice services is the first hurdle to overcome.

During the dedication ceremony, Susan G. Taylor, executive director of the organization since 1999 presented Norman Morin of BMF Architects with a plaque of gratitude for his generous contribution toward the 747 building project. Also, recognized during the event was Michael Smith, CFO, for his outstanding leadership of the building project and move.

"The organization, sustained by its mission, to compassionately serve our community by providing palliative and end-of-life care to patients and loved ones, as well as grief support for those coping with a life-changing loss, is honored to walk side by side with individuals during this phase of their lives," said Dawn Johns, Hospice's community relations director.

"Every day is a new opportunity for the HWC staff to make each day count for our patients and families," she said.

For additional information regarding Hospice services, grief support, or to volunteer, call 301-791-6360.

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