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By Kim De Rosa
Looking towards the next decade at Hospicare & Palliative Care Services.
New Year’s is a time to reflect on the year that’s passed as well as set intentions for the one that lies ahead. This year seems particularly meaningful to me as we embark on a new strategic plan that will guide Hospicare into this next decade and beyond.
Hospicare is honored to serve our neighbors throughout Cortland and Tompkins counties by providing palliative care, hospice and grief support to all who need us. While I am grateful to lead this incredible organization as Executive Director, Hospicare belongs to every one of us – our patients, families, volunteers, donors, supporters, and of course, our phenomenal staff.
Together, we are Hospicare. And together, we are going to make sure that every single person who can benefit from our care knows where to turn.
In 2020, we will embark on major initiatives to grow our palliative care program, which improves quality-of-life on a physical, emotional and spiritual level and is available to anyone facing serious illness. A major part of this initiative will be helping our community better comprehend palliative care, a term that still confuses many people. We’re hiring a nurse practitioner to lead our clinical efforts alongside the nurses, social workers, and other staff who are at the core of our care team. Simultaneously, a major gift from a grateful patient (read about the Tapan Mitra story) will allow us to jumpstart a multi-faceted educational campaign, spanning online, print, radio and in-person initiatives. As a valued part of the Hospicare family, you also are an important advocate! We want to ensure that you know and can describe palliative care to your friends and family, so we’ll be working on communication tools to help with that as well.
Another key priority for 2020 is to build awareness of hospice and how it can support families for months – not just weeks or days — before a death. Our hearts break every time we hear someone say, “I wish we had contacted Hospicare sooner.” Our goal is to help patients feel empowered to talk to their doctors about hospice, and to reach out directly to us at any time with questions.
These are just two of Hospicare’s initiatives, and I’m looking forward to working with you to make them reality.
This community is a special place to call home, and it’s the people who make it so. Thank you for all the ways in which you support Hospicare’s work, and my best wishes to you and yours for a bright start to 2020!
Kim De Rosa
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.