Sara Worden Takes on a New Role at Hospicare 

Hospicare is pleased to announce that Sara Worden has stepped into a new role as Director of Development and Community Relations! Sara has more than ten years of experience in community-facing service, relationship-building, and event coordination here in our region, the last three years here in Hospicare, where she has cultivated valuable relationships with providers and human service partners. 

Sara has a unique and authentic vision for a future where Hospicare is more interconnected with our community and its values, and grounded in a place of gratitude and hope. Sara says “I’ve loved working at Hospicare and I’m excited to serve our community in this new capacity! I look forward to strengthening our relationships in the community to ensure a long lasting and thriving organization that provides kindhearted care to Cortland and Tompkins counties. Don’t hesitate to reach out at any time with questions or ideas for collaboration!”

You are invited to join Sara and Joe Sammons for virtual open office hours on Zoom. Tuesday, September 14, 4-5pm. Sara can be reached at sworden@hospicare.org or 607-272-0212.

The Night You Died – a love story, a poet, and her legacy

By Jen Gabriel

It was a sunny spring afternoon and an unassuming envelope arrived in Hospicare’s mailbox. Inside, a generous check and a single piece of paper. 

“To whom it may concern,” the letter began. “Enclosed please find my final donation. I have a terminal illness and will not be further donating to any organizations. Sincerely, Joyce McAlllister.” 

Joyce’s friend and caregiver, Erin Quinn, said that this effort was Joyce’s way of saying goodbye to the dozens of nonprofit organizations she had supported. 

“Joyce had a soft spot in her heart for nonprofits of all kinds,” Erin explained. “She made small gifts to them her whole life, and when it came time to prepare for her death, she wanted to be sure that her favorite charities knew why her giving would soon stop.” 

In addition to supporting Hospicare and a handful of other local organizations, Joyce made gifts to many animal rescue organizations. 

“Joyce always said, ‘everyone always cares about the elephants and the big cats, but no one ever thinks about the donkeys’,” Erin said, with a chuckle. “She loved her donkeys.” 

Born in Ithaca in 1931, Joyce and her family lived on dairy farms in Groton, and later in Dryden. She graduated with an Ithaca College degree in drama, left the area to live in New York City for a few years, and returned to the Ithaca-area in 1960. It was then that Joyce began a 30-year career at Cornell University.   

Joyce’s strong connection and affinity for Hospicare began in 2004, when the agency cared for her husband John, first at home, and then at the residence.  

“Hospicare did everything right by Joyce,” Erin said. “She felt so supported and cared for, and that meant everything to her.” 

After she retired, Joyce turned to poetry writing. She published her first book of poems at the age of 85.  In fact, it was her 2004 experience with Hospicare that inspired her poem, “The Night You Died.” The poem expresses Joyce’s gratitude for the Hospicare nurse who had sung her husband’s favorite Irish tune with him in the moments before he died. 

A copy of that special poem is below. Joyce’s third book of poetry, published posthumously, will be available for purchase later this year.  

The Night You Died 

Afterwards, they told me  
how you sang your way 
to death, head raised high  
to catch your ever-thinning  
breath, singing melodies you  
learned in youth, forming  
words you watched parade  
across closed lids. 

The Night Pat Murphy Died  
sounded from your bed,  
moved out the door, down  
the hall; your soul followed  
with a will, anxious now to  
find that spot of green you  
knew from birth was yours  
to claim. 

They said your voice was  
resolute and unafraid,  
an Irish tenor making  
song to spend the leap  
from finished life to  
timeless death. Beside a  
stone in County Cork,  
ancestors perched  
and waited.  

Hospicare & Palliative Care Services Receives Major Gift to Grow Palliative Care in Cortland and Tompkins Counties

Hospicare & Palliative Care Services Executive Director Kim De Rosa announced today the community’s access to palliative care services throughout Cortland and Tompkins Counties will increase substantially thanks to a major gift from the estate of a local resident. The $100,000 donation will be used by Hospicare to establish the Tapan Mitra Fund for Palliative Care and the Tapan Mitra Endowment for Palliative Care.

“Palliative care can make a world of difference for patients and their families, and the research backs that up,” said De Rosa. “Hospicare is launching a major effort to expand and grow our popular program, ensuring that all who can benefit from palliative care know where to turn. We are immensely grateful for this transformational gift and the opportunity to partner with an incredible family to make a significant difference in our community.”

Cornell University professor Tapan Mitra, a leading economic theorist, died of cancer in February. At the time of his passing, his care was coordinated by Hospicare. Dr. Mitra directed that a portion of his estate be used to support education, the environment and cancer services. This gift to Hospicare was administered by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.

“Professor Mitra was grateful and impressed at the quality of care he received from Hospicare in his final days,” said Aveek Majumdar, his nephew. “He would have been heartened that part of his legacy will allow others in the community to benefit from the organization’s further expansion to palliative care services.”

“Dr. Mitra’s charitable gift to support strong partnerships and to publicize the benefits of palliative care will provide comfort and compassionate care to many people well into the future. “We are proud to offer this leadership opportunity for Hospicare, and are especially grateful to our donor who makes it possible for local quality of care programs to thrive,” said George Ferrari, Community Foundation CEO. “These planned gifts become a meaningful force in local philanthropy.”

Palliative care specializes in relieving the symptoms and stress of serious illness. Symptoms may be physical, emotional, or spiritual, and the goal is to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care may be appropriate at any point in an illness, from diagnosis on, and – unlike hospice– it can be provided at the same time as curative treatments. 

The Tapan Mitra Fund for Palliative Care will provide the financial resources to cultivate strong partnerships with the region’s medical communities, and to provide Hospicare’s service area (Tompkins and Cortland Counties) with education and information about the benefits of palliative care and its interdisciplinary approach. Interest earnings from the Tapan Mitra Endowment for Palliative Care will provide funds in perpetuity for outreach and marketing efforts.

Since 2017, Hospicare’s PATH (Palliative Approach To Health) program has served hundreds of patients and families. Each of its approximately 70 patients have access to a nurse who assists with symptom management, coordination of care, and finding community resources to help with individual needs. In 2020, PATH will expand in both staff and scope, providing patients even more hands-on, focused care.

Palliative care programs have proven an effective addition to the overall care for serious illness, reducing pain and other distressing symptoms. The programs also increase patient and family/caregiver satisfaction with their care and make transitions between hospitals and other care settings easier. Numerous studies have shown that palliative care improves patients’ quality of life, decreases depression and anxiety, saves patients from unnecessary hospitalizations and tests, and even prolongs life.

Dr. Mitra’s passion for the community and for education drove him to make significant philanthropic gifts, both during and after his life. In 2016, Dr. Mitra established endowments to offer prizes for economics students at Cornell and the University of Rochester.  This past summer, a gift to the Finger Lakes Land Trust administered by Community Foundation established the Tapan Mitra Preserve.

This donation is the second-largest single private gift in Hospicare’s 36-year history. 

Supporter Spotlight: “It’s Hard to Say No to Hospicare”

Linda Haylor Mikula, former Hospicare Board member and current Women Swimmin’ committee member, sees the deep connections between Hospicare and our community as something very special. “At every Women Swimmin’ meeting, a Hospicare staff member reads a letter sent by a patient or a patient’s family member,” she says. “Those letters hit my heart. I realize every time how much this organization does for those who are dying and for their families who are dealing with that.”

photo by Jon Reis

Linda’s appreciation for Hospicare’s work in the community has led her to contribute to our mission in many irreplaceable ways. If you’ve ever noticed Hospicare’s distinctive postcard annual report, or found yourself attracted to the professional design of the Hospicare print newsletter or proudly worn one of the many Women Swimmin’ tee-shirts, you’ve been touched by some of Linda’s volunteer work. She has been using her professional design skills to support our work for nearly 10 years. Linda has also been the chair of the Hospicare events committee for many years, and this year she is the co-chair of the Women Swimmin’ committee. Her first involvement with Hospicare began in 2008 when she revamped the print newsletter’s design and helped with Hospicare’s brand development. “It’s hard to say ‘no’ to Hospicare,” Linda says.

Both Linda’s father-in-law and sister-in-law were cared for by Hospicare until their deaths. Her father-in-law’s experience in particular had a profound effect on her. “My husband’s father was in the Hospicare Residence,” she recalls. “That was when I really learned what Hospicare is. When my husband saw his father hooked up to machines in a hospital, he couldn’t let his dad go, but when his dad moved into the Residence, that changed how my husband felt. His father was finally comfortable. When you see a loved one on hospice services, whether in their own home or the Residence, there’s just something about the comfort that helps. I think it makes it easier to say goodbye. It was a magical moment to see my husband accept and let his father go.”

Although Linda recently left the Hospicare Board of Directors after serving the maximum of two three-year terms, she doesn’t plan to curtail her involvement with us. “I joke that when I retire from Cornell, they better have a desk ready for me at Hospicare,” she says. “The staff at Hospicare are a special group of people. I feel like I’m part of their family and part of a big community, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s nice to know that you’re giving back.”

 

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“I’m Grateful for the Many Ways Hospicare Serves Our Community”

“Facing the end of life takes courage, perhaps especially for the family members of patients,” says Pamela Goddard, Hospicare volunteer. “Facing that approaching loss is a difficult thing. But, we don’t have to face it alone. This is the real gift of hospice services—support for both patients and their family members at every step of the way. And, with support, we can find comfort and even beauty in coming to terms with end-of-life and the process of grief.”

Pamela helps offer that support and comfort to others by her involvement with Hospicare. She sings with Hospicare’s monthly Women Singin’ group and with Schola Cantorum, a smaller group that sings at the bedsides of patients. She also takes part in vigils, sitting beside dying patients who do not have friends or family who can be with them in their final hours. On June 10, she will co-facilitate “Gathering the Pieces” with Elaine Mansfield, a workshop for grievers that focuses on ritual, simple mindfulness meditation techniques and shared experience. Pamela will be focused mainly on leading the meditation portion of the workshop, building on her experience as the co-facilitator of a community mindfulness meditation group that meets once a month at the Nina K. Miller Hospicare Center in Ithaca.

All of these activities express her gratitude for Hospicare, she says. “I’m grateful for the comfort and relief that Hospicare brings to friends and their families. I’m grateful for the home Hospicare has provided our meditation group. I’m grateful for the many ways that Hospicare serves our community, and for the many ways the community serves Hospicare. This mutual, vital interconnection is a really beautiful thing.”

Pamela has had friends who have been cared for by Hospicare, and her mother-in-law also received hospice services in New York City, so she has experienced first hand the value of hospice for those who are terminally ill. “I’m a strong believer in the value of respectful palliative care at the end of life,” she says. “I’ve seen how people dear to me have been able to transition with dignity, each in their own way. The ability to make personal choices about how to die, to have some control over this crucial time of life—for the individual and also for family—and to have caring, professional support is such a gift.”

Volunteering with Hospicare has been deeply moving and also fun, Pamela says. “It may seem odd to use the word ‘fun,’ when talking about working with the dying and their families” she admits, “but there’s often humor and lightness in what we do.” Music especially plays a powerful part in her volunteer experience. “It is a heart expanding honor to bring peace, beauty, and even moments of joy, at the end through the power of music,” she says.

Find out more about the “Gathering the Pieces” workshop or about volunteering with Hospicare.

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Dryden Barber Shop Fundraiser: “Everyone Loves Hospicare”

The Dryden Barber Shop has been in business 30 years, and Sylvia Short, the shop’s owner, wanted to throw an anniversary party. In keeping with the shop’s tenth, twentieth and twenty-fifth anniversaries, this party would be a fundraiser for a charity, but which one? “I thought, everyone loves Hospicare,” she says. “There’s not one person who says anything negative about hospice. Wow, how could anyone say no? It’s a win-win!”

Since making that decision, Sylvia has been planning the party with all benefits to go to Hospicare. She’s happy to do it, she says, because she is grateful for the care Hospicare gave her 85-year-old mother at the end of her life. Her mother was suffering from interstitial lung disease and reached a point where she decided to call Hospicare. “Mom called Hospicare herself and said, ‘What are my choices? I don’t know what to do,’” Sylvia remembers. “She told us she’d called hospice to find out the next step.”

Hospicare nurse Amanda McLaughlin, RN, immediately visited Sylvia’s parents in their home to explain hospice and to assess Sylvia’s mother for hospice service. Then Amanda became her nurse, visiting once a week to check on her and to keep her comfortable. Amanda and the rest of the Hospicare team made a real difference in the lives of all family members, Sylvia says. “That’s what Hospicare is known for. They help you. Hospicare made a huge impact because they were so good with my father. They were so good with all of us. It’s the way they present themselves. They’re not just there for the patient, they’re there for the whole enchilada. We certainly appreciated it.”

The Dryden Barber Shop event will be held at the Dryden Hotel and include a live auction starting around 3:30, face painting from 3:00 to 4:00, cake and a hot dog sale. There is a possibility of a raffle or silent auction, as well.

To see the items that will be auctioned, visit the Dryden Barber Shop’s Facebook page.

What: Dryden Barber Shop’s 30th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser

When: Sunday, May 7, 2:00−5:00 PM.

Where: The Dryden Hotel, 42 West Main Street, Dryden