Don't fear the tissues at Hospice event

November 10, 2011

At an upcoming Hospice of Washington County Inc. fundraiser and public awareness program, organizers promise that tables will be outfitted with the traditional appointments, plus one item that isn't all that common at such affairs — a box of tissues.

That shouldn't scare anyone off.

In fact, it is Hospice that often brings us some of the most poignant and heartwarming moments of our lives, in our loved ones' final hours.

"We will make people cry, but we will leave them joyful," promises spokeswoman Cheryl Brown.

The event scheduled for Nov. 15 at Cortland Mansion in Hagerstown features Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Karen Taylor-Good, as well as testimonials from families whose lives Hospice has touched. Taylor-Good will be performing and signing autographs after the event.

There is no charge for admission, and donations are optional. Advance tickets are needed, and can be obtained by calling Hospice at 301-791-6360.

The need for Hospice is clear; CEO Sue Taylor said that when she started in the late '90s, Hospice of Washington County Inc. had 20 patients and 20 employees. Today, it cares for 230 patients.

Still, there are many misconceptions that Hospice hopes its event will help mitigate. Some resist Hospice services because they view it as "giving up," and they do not consider giving up to be an option. Others might think that Hospice is just for cancer patients, or just for the elderly — neither of which is true.

And, it's something a lot of people simply don't want to discuss, necessary or not.

"It's not dinnertime conversation; people think it's very morbid," Taylor said.

But discussion of uncomfortable topics early makes an easier time of it later, which is why we support Hospice's upcoming evening of entertainment and information.

Like every aspect of health care, Hospice likely will face future financial challenges, so its services and contributions to the community are worthy topics of discussion.

With the aging of the baby boomer generation, demands will also increase. There is a need for awareness of what Hospice can provide, from traditional care to pet therapy, music and reading.

We salute those employees and volunteers who perform these duties, and encourage those who want to learn more not to fear the tissues.

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