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Local hospice partners with one in Kenya

March 13, 2009|By TIM SHEA

Hospice of Washington County recently established a partnership with a hospice in Kenya through the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa's Partnership Initiative.

The local hospice has adopted Coast Hospice of Mombasa, Kenya, as its sister hospice, said Susan Taylor, executive director of Hospice of Washington County. The partnership was approved by the FHSSA about Feb. 1, she said.

Coast Hospice serves Kenya's approximately 300-mile Indian Ocean coastal region from Somalia south to Tanzania. Founded in 2001, its eight-person staff serves 90 patients, Taylor said. Hospice of Washington County serves about 160 patients, she said.

Coast Hospice operates out of a two-room building that has one bed, one stretcher, one exam room and few supplies, Taylor said. The hospice only has one car for its eight employees, and many of its patients have to walk to get to it, she said.

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Two-thirds of the world's HIV infections and more than three-fourths of the resulting deaths occur in Africa, said Steve Taylor, Hospice of Washington County's spiritual care coordinator. More than 2 million Africans, including 520,000 children, died of HIV/AIDS last year, he said.

"(The partnership) was kind of sparked by the sheer overwhelming number of (HIV) infections in Africa," Steve Taylor said. "People are dying alone and in a great amount of pain compared to us."

The hospices plan to share hands-on training and compare issues related to end-of-life care, Taylor said.

"We're going to provide each other ongoing education opportunities," he said. "They're going to help us with end-of-life issues relating to AIDS-related deaths."

Hospice of Washington County also plans to do fundraising for Coast Hospice.

Hospice already is doing a carry-in soup bar, where employees bring in crockpots of soup, and cups of soup are sold for $1 per bowl. About $400 was raised through the first soup bar, Steve Taylor said.

Some Hospice employees also are having money deducted from their paychecks and donating it to Coast Hospice, he said.

Taylor said he plans to visit Coast Hospice in September, and Faustin Mgendi, the founder of Coast Hospice, has been invited to visit Hospice of Washington County.

Hospice of Washington County plans to send teams of two to four people annually to Coast Hospice to help serve its patients' needs, Susan Taylor said.

The FHSSA's Partnership Initiative currently has 76 partnerships involving 22 states and 16 African countries. For information, go to www.fhssa.org

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