Our newsletter is out! The theme is creativity and it’s a testament to the incredible work our staff does everyday. Its pages are filled with examples of their adaptability, resiliency, and commitment to providing exceptional care, even in the most challenging of times.
Hospicare & Palliative Care Services welcomes Natalie (Jenereski) Daffinee as our newest member of the Board of Directors. Natalie’s term began in June.
For the past three years, Natalie has served as the Associate Director of Social Media Strategy at Ithaca College. She graduated from IC with a degree in television-radio. Prior to returning to her alma mater, Natalie worked as a Digital Public Relations Strategist at a PR agency in Tennessee and was a broadcast journalist in Chattanooga and Binghamton. When she’s not working, Natalie enjoys playing tennis, cooking, and going on hikes with her husband, Tyler, and their dog!
Natalie has served on Hospicare’s Development & Community Relations committee for the past two years, and has provided valuable input into marketing and communications strategies for the agency.
“My husband and I recently decided to put down roots in Ithaca, and I was looking for some ways to get involved in the community that we both deeply love and appreciate,” says Natalie. “The mission of Hospicare & Palliative Care Services speaks to my soul, and I look forward to contributing to its success.”
With the start of 2019, Hospicare & Palliative Care Services was thrilled to welcome three new members to its Board of Directors:
Rev. Tim Dean is the Director of Spiritual Care at Cayuga Medical Center, where he has worked since 2007. Tim is chair of the CMC Ethics Committee and serves on the Palliative Care Team. Tim’s faith, rooted in evangelical Christianity, has grown into an ecumenism that celebrates all people and welcomes all faiths. He describes himself as “a Baptist with some Buddhist leanings.” Tim’s personal interests include outdoor pursuits, especially on Cayuga Lake (paddling, fishing, sailing). Tim occasionally works as an instructor/facilitator for Cornell Outdoor Education to bring balance to his work at the hospital.
Michael Kilmer, a lifelong resident of Cortland county, is Executive Director of the Elizabeth Brewster House, a licensed adult care facility for up to 45 residents. He holds an undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation from SUNY Cortland, and a masters in social policy from SUNY Empire State University. Happily married with two children, Michael and prides himself on his work in the community, including serving on the Board of Education for Homer Central Schools, on the board of the Hospice Foundation of Cortland County, and with a variety of other committees and councils.
Dr. Kathryn Rooth completed her Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. After residency, she started working as a Hospitalist at Cayuga Medical Center and as an Urgent Care Pediatrician. She has been involved with the Palliative Care team at CMC and is passionate about end of life care in the developmentally disabled. For the past several years, Kathryn has participated in Women Swimmin’ where her husband and 3 children cheer her on.
Members of the Board of Directors are some of the many volunteers who choose to help Hospicare each year. Volunteers serve on committees, assist with office work, volunteer at special events and – of course – work directly with patients and families in their homes or in our residence. Each individual is critical to our work to broaden Hospicare’s community reach in Tompkins and Cortland County, helping to ensure all who desire and need our services have access to them.
For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact Volunteer Manager Wendy Yettru at 607.272.0212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our lives are largely guided by our values, and as an organization, Hospicare is no exception. One of our core values is excellence, which we define, in part, as a commitment to continuous improvement in everything we do. We expect and remain open to change, recognizing that it is inevitable and necessary for all growth. It’s this value that encourages us to take time to assess and reflect on how we’re doing, and it drives us to improve access to and the quality of our services over time.
Whenever we have the chance, we dive deep into data, which can help provide valuable insights, especially when we can compare other similar organizations to our own.
Recently, metrics were shared with us that showed we are growing in a very important area. A newly released Hospice Analytics report of 2016 Medicare data showed that community members who need our hospice services are more successful in finding and accessing them. The measure, which is referred to as “hospice utilization,” is measured by the percentage of Medicare deaths in each county that occurred on hospice services.
The data told an interesting story, and one that we are proud to share with you. Across our service area, in both Tompkins and Cortland counties, hospice utilization increased between 2015 and 2016. Tompkins county hospice utilization increased by 3.7% and Cortland county experienced a growth of 3.6%.
While we’re proud of these statistics, and the community relations and outreach work that no doubt contributed to it, we’re more happy that this growth means that more patients and loved ones gained access to our services.
Bottom line: we’re reaching more families in both of the counties we serve.
At the same time, we will not rest on our laurels. Excelling in the context of hospice utilization in New York State is a great start, but we can always improve. We wouldn’t be embodying our value of excellence without looking to identify where we still have work to do.
One way we could be doing better is by getting involved with patients earlier, which would help introduce families to our services sooner and would increase the quality of life of patients in their final months. Like most New York hospices, our average length of stay is low compared to the national average. And this is where we need your help!
Help us get the word out so our services to reach the people who need them most. Talk to your friends and family about hospice services and the options they have when facing a life-limiting illness. Read more about why it helps to understand palliative care options before you’re sick. Connect with a staff person at Hospicare directly to discuss a patient – family members, friends, neighbors, and even casual acquaintances can make a referral. Additionally, we welcome the opportunity to speak to your group, large or small, about hospice or palliative care services in Tompkins and Cortland county. Email our outreach and communications manager at email@example.com or give us a call at 607-272-0212.
To get ready for registration day check out our website www.womenswimmin.org. This year Women Swimmin’ registration options include: Register as an Individual, Form a Team, and Join a Team. Please choose the Registration type that suits you, and if you’re not sure, don’t worry! If you register as an individual and later decide to form or join a team that can be accomplished from within your Participant Center. If you participated last year please use the same username and password. These were sent to you via email on April 8.
You’ll be asked to enter specific information, including:
- Your date of birth (all swimmers must be at least 18 years old on the date of the swim)
- The name and phone number for an emergency contact (someone who will be on land and reachable the morning of Aug 11)
- All participants must have a unique email address to register for Women Swimmin’. If you plan to register multiple participants please make sure that you have an email address for each before you get started.
- Whether you need special accommodation to complete the swim (for example, needing to use a snorkel, or if you can’t wear a latex swim cap)
- If you want to swim with specific swimmers and/or be escorted by a particular boater
- Information about how fast you think you’ll swim
- Why you’re swimmin’ for Hospicare. We love hearing the reasons women choose to do the swim! We recommend you compose an answer before you register (you can also update this field after you register) so you can cut and paste it into the box on the registration form.
There is a non-refundable $25 registration fee for swimmers which goes toward your $200 fundraising minimum. If you are not one of the first 350 Lake Swimmers to register, you can still have a chance to swim- we will register 30 Wait List Swimmers. In past years, we have been able to offer a swim day spot to each woman on the wait list!
Important Note: The online registration process works best from the standard version of the website. Some swimmers have had trouble registering from their phone or tablet. We strongly recommend you register from a laptop or computer.
On the morning of Saturday, August 11, 2018 Cayuga Lake will be bustling with activity for the 15th Annual Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare. Women Swimmin’ is a community swim—not a race—that raises money to support of the work Hospicare & Palliative Care Services. More than 300 women will swim 1.2 miles across Cayuga Lake that day escorted by nearly 200 boaters and supported onshore by 100 volunteers. Dozens of other women will be swimmin’ laps in pools in Tompkins and Cortland counties, across the country and even around the world in the months leading up to August 11.
Women Swimmin’ is Hospicare’s largest fundraising and community outreach event of the year. Many of the services we provide to our community are possible because of the generous support we receive though Women Swimmin’. Obviously, all of us at Hospicare think it’s a wonderful event, but you don’t need to take our word for it! The following is what some past participants have said about Women Swimmin’.
From women who swam across Cayuga Lake:
- “My favorite part of Women Swimmin’ is the sense of community, joy and love on the day of the event, meeting new people, and knowing that I’m helping a family receive the end of life support the need.”
- “It was one of the most beautiful and powerful days of my life and I can’t wait to do it again and again. The greeting I received coming out of the water from one of the volunteers moved me to tears.”
- “I believe in the purpose, in Hospicare. The swim is a wonderful way to raise money and give back. Swimming across the lake I swim with all I have lost. Shadow swimmers beside me crossing the lake on a beautiful morning.”
From women who swam Laps:
- “It just feels good to do something that is good for the community as well as for your own health.”
- “I loved being able to swim Laps because I couldn’t make it back home to Ithaca for the swim! It was fun to stay involved despite being farther away.”
From some of our boaters:
- “Rain or shine, wind or calm, it’s a great day. A chance to be on the water, do good, honor those that are gone, celebrate with those that are here, and help promote an extremely important and worthy cause.”
- “It is a fantastic way to support friends, families and Hospicare. In a world that is full of negatives, this is a celebration of Life.”
- “Hospicare was my family’s blessing a few years ago. I was glad to give back to them!”
If you’d like to join us for Women Swimmin’, as a swimmer, boater or volunteer, here’s what you need to know to participate in this year’s event:
- Lake Swimmer registration will open May 7 at 6:00 AM. In past years swimmer registration filled in 2 to 3 hours, so if you’d like to swim the lake this year, we suggest you plan on setting your alarm for 6:00 AM on registration day. This year’s event is eagerly anticipated by women in our community–and beyond. Some will even come from other states and other countries to participate!
- Boater registration opens April 15 and will be ongoing until August 5.
- Women Swimmin’ Laps–where swimmers swim at their own pace in a swimming pool of their choice– opened for registration March 15 and will be ongoing until August 10.
- Volunteer –registration opens May 15. We rely on the help of over 100 volunteers to make Women Swimmin’ possible!
For regular updates on the 2018 event, “like” Women Swimmin’ on Facebook.
For more information, visit www.womenswimmin.org
At its heart, Hospicare & Palliative Care Services is a community organization, supported by and providing service to our friends and neighbors throughout Cortland and Tompkins Counties. We could not fulfill our mission of supporting those dealing with serious illness or grieving a loss, without the aid and involvement of our community. The annual Hospicare Recognition Luncheon allows us to come together with our friends and neighbors to show our appreciation for their contributions.
Amy Dickinson was our keynote speaker. A native of Freeville, a nationally known author and syndicated columnist of “Ask Amy,” Dickinson delivered a wonderful speech full of insightful commentary on life and meaning at the end of life.
We also presented two honors:
The Small Comforts Foundation, Ltd. received the Dr. R. Roy Coats Compassionate Care Award. This award is given to a caregiver or group of caregivers/agency, for consistently providing exceptional, compassionate care to Hospicare patients, allowing them to live their lives as fully as possible. Small Comforts is a local non-profit foundation “dedicated to funding and administering programs to raise the morale and or quality of life for people of all ages living with chronic illness.” Our Hospicare patients have been beneficiaries of Small Comforts compassion and generosity many times over the past 13 years. Some of the items they have funded include air conditioners for patients who didn’t have AC in their homes; a juicer so a patient could have fresh, nourishing juice; and warming gloves for a patient’s arthritic hands.
Charles Guttman received the Hospicare Volunteer Honor in appreciation of his 30 years of service to Hospicare. The Volunteer Honor is given to an individual volunteer or board or committee member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to Hospicare and its mission. Chuck has volunteered through the years as a member of the Hospicare board of directors and the Foundation Board, and as an an advisor to the executive director on legal issues. He has also co-chaired the Hospicare Ethics Committee.
On Saturday, August 12, 2017, 284 women gathered to swim across Cayuga Lake (a distance of 1.2 miles). They were escorted by 150 boaters in kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards and powerboats. And they were supported on shore by 130 volunteers who helped out at Cass Park, the Ithaca Yacht Club, the swim entry on the east shore, and in the days and weeks before the swim. Joining these swimmin’ women in spirit, if not in person, were 38 women who swam laps in pools throughout our community and around the world!
The women who decide to participate in Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare do so for many reasons. Some are swimming in memory or honor of a loved one who received hospice services. Some are swimming because they understand the importance of hospice services and want to make sure Hospicare will be here to support their family someday. Others swim for the physical challenge or the camaraderie of this community swim. One reason they all swim was proudly declared on our t-shirts, buttons and posters: “I swim to celebrate life.”
At its very essence, hospice is a philosophy of care that celebrates life. Hospicare’s mission is to support our patients so they can live their lives as fully as possible, for however much time is left. Our team of skilled professionals and trained volunteers work together to provide physical, emotional and spiritual comfort to our friends and neighbors who are dealing with terminal illness. All of us here today, plus thousands of donors around the world, have come together to make sure that care continues. To make sure everyone in our community can receive the hospice and palliative care they need to live their lives fully, regardless of whether they have insurance or means to pay.
Celebrating life and living life fully means different things to each of us. Obviously, it can mean swimmin’ or boatin’ across Cayuga Lake, or back and forth in a pool!
For some of the people we support, living life fully might mean:
- a portable oxygen tank so he can go out to dinner with friends or watch a grandchild’s ball game.
- a wheelchair and a raised garden bed so she can get outside and plant flowers
- a volunteer to help her sort through and organize family photos
- a social worker–and others–trying to make sure a beloved pet finds the right next home
- a grief support group with others who are also grieving the death of someone they love
Most of all, it means there is an entire Hospicare team to make the burden of caregiving and dying just a bit easier.
All of us at Hospicare are immensely grateful for these swimmers and boaters who have given of their time and put forth great energy to fundraise for Hospicare. We also appreciate the volunteers and boaters, the friends and families who have supported our swimmers, and also to the corporate sponsors and underwriters who covered the expenses associated with the event. We truly could not support our community in all the ways we do without your amazing support.
No one swims alone. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve said or typed that phrase in the seven years I’ve worked at Hospicare and been involved with Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare. It’s an important part of our Women Swimmin’ event—that no swimmer should be alone as she crosses Cayuga Lake. She should always be with an escort boat and ideally with other swimmers. Many swimmers and boaters say their favorite part of Women Swimmin’ is the community of the event and seeing so many other swimmers and boaters around them in the lake. It can be intimidating to be in the middle of a big, deep lake, but our swimmers are not alone out there.
The women who are swimming laps as part of Women Swimmin’ Laps for Hospicare are also not swimmin’ alone. They’re in pools with a certified lifeguard watching to make sure they’re safe. Some laps swimmers are part of a Women Swimmin’ team, who are fundraising together. Even if each swimmer is swimming her laps solo, she joins in the sisterhood of Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare. She is swimmin’–just as 1400 other women have swum over the years—to raise funds that support quality, end-of-life care for our community. While she swims her laps, she carries with her the memory of friends and family who have been served by Hospicare.
I’ve come to learn, and our Women Swimmin’ participants know or have learned, that “no one swims alone” is not just a Women Swimmin’ protocol but also a mantra for hospice care. Our staff and volunteers work together, as a team, to care for and support our patients and their families. Hospice is unique in that the focus of care is not only the patient’s physical needs, but also their spiritual and emotional needs, and those of their loved ones.
Our interdisciplinary team of staff and volunteers work together to anticipate and meet the various needs of our patients and their families. Some of those needs are medical (medications, medical equipment, personal care); other needs are logistical, emotional or spiritual. Whatever the need, there is someone on the Hospicare team who will make sure that need is met.
The journey of illness, death and grief is a difficult one. Your support of Women Swimmin’ for Hospicare means that our patients and their loved ones won’t have to make the journey alone. Hospicare will be there, with skilled staff and trained volunteers to provide the support, guidance and care that’s needed.
Because no one swims alone.
Melissa Travis Dunham was previously our manager of community relations at Hospicare. She was the event coordinator and helped organize Women Swimmin’ for four years.
Each year, on an evening in early June, the gardens of the Nina K. Miller Hospicare Center on Ithaca’s South Hill glow with light. Visitors stroll our garden paths, which are lined with 300 luminarias, many dedicated to someone who has died. At the end of the evening a lighted canoe glides across our pond while trumpeters play “Taps,” and all who are in attendance pause to remember someone they love. This is Hospicare’s spring community memorial event: Illuminations.
This year’s Illuminations event will be held on Thursday, June 8. A reception and luminaria lighting begin at 7:30 p.m. A special program of remembrance starts at 8:00 p.m. Illuminations is held rain or shine. In case of inclement weather, the program moves indoors to the Hospicare Great Room. The event is open to the public. There is no cost to attend, although luminarias can be personalized for a suggested donation of $25. (Donations are greatly appreciated, but not required.)
If you are grieving the loss of someone you love, whether the death was recent or many years ago, and regardless of whether your loved one died on hospice services, we invite you to join us. Come experience the peace and beauty of the Hospicare gardens. Light a luminaria in memory or in honor of a loved one. Most importantly, share in the sense of community with others who are also grieving a loss.
If you would like to join us or make a contribution to have a luminaria lit in memory of someone you love, please RSVP online.