Author: Katrina Ganzler
Published May 27, 2014
I vividly remember the passing of my Grandfather. He was my best friend and our whole family knew our bond was like no other. He was an active swimmer, hilarious comedian, and a cheerful spirit who lived life to the fullest. When he got bone cancer, he tried his best to fight it with chemotherapy. Going through chemo at the age of 80 was too rough on his body and he ultimately ended up in the hospital with the notion it won’t be long before he goes. I remember him getting pricked for blood while the IV was getting changed and he lost it. He screamed that he is ready to go but he doesn’t want to die in the cold hospital.
At that point, we as a family agreed to put him in Hospice. That was the best decision we made. He died about four days later but we had the opportunity hold his hand to say our goodbyes while he had the opportunity to be welcomed with warm, compassionate nurses who made it easier to say goodbye. The hospice nurse who was there when he took his last breath even called me at 3:00am because I asked him to let me know when he goes. After that experience, hospice has had a profound effect on my outlook on death.
Something we all have in common is life and death. At some point or another, the journey of living ends. Sometimes death comes too early, sometimes too sudden, and sometimes too painful. Death is never easy, especially those who we leave behind. It’s a tough subject for many, but an important one. When someone becomes ill with a condition that gets worse and ultimately reaches an end stage, their symptoms become more unbearable and harder to control. As a result, it can significantly impair a person’s functional status and quality of life. That’s where Hospice comes in. They offer help for patients and families by relieving their physical pain, preserving their dignity, and helping the patient and family with the psychological and spiritual pain of death.
Serving nearly 3,000 patients annually, Hospice of Marion County provides compassionate comfort care to those with advancing illness. Since 1983, this local not-for-profit is committed to extending programs into our community that offer maximum access and wide-ranging support. Hospice is available for people in any setting whether it’s their homes, the hospital, nursing homes, or at one of their Hospice Houses. Seventy percent of Americans say they want to die at home, but 50 percent die in hospitals. Eighty-six percent of Hospice patients are able to remain in the comfort of their own home where they get to be surrounded by their loved ones.
Mary Ellen Poe is the Executive Director at Hospice of Marion County, led by an all-volunteer board of directors made of local businesspeople and medical professionals who are dedicated to our community’s well being. On May 17th Hospice held their seventh annual Frank Polack Memorial Ride where 250 riders raised $26,000 to benefit patient care programs. Their next fundraising event is a Hawaiian Luau hosted by The Ocala Dance Club, Cardio Waltz and The Institute for Cardio Excellence on Tuesday June 10 from 7-10 p.m. at St. Mark’s Methodist Church. The event will have dance exhibitions, open dancing, prizes and raffles, a dinner buffet with table seating. Tickets are $25 including food and beverages. For additional information call Dennis Rose at 352-425-0500.
Hospice of Marion County isn’t funded by United Way of Marion County (although they used to be) but they still raise money for United Way by offering an employee workplace campaign and participate in United Way’s annual Day of Caring. One of United Way of Marion County’s most loyal volunteer and donor is Lisa Varner, Community Outreach Coordinator for Hospice of Marion County. She is a member of the health impact steering committee, campaign cabinet, Young Leaders Society, and is the Employee Campaign Coordinator for their United Way workplace campaign. That says a lot about how passionate Hospice and Lisa Varner are towards helping our local community. Now that is how you LIVE UNITED!