Contributions total $21,500 at Jefferson County Hospice Foundation's annual breakfast fundraiser in Port Townsend
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Lisa Holt, executive director of the Jefferson County Home Health and Hospice, speaks at a breakfast fundraiser Thursday. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The end of a life doesn't have to be a hopeless or negative experience when hospice is involved, a fundraising breakfast audience was told Thursday.

“I am proud of our hospice team and the dedicated, compassionate care they provide during a very difficult time,” said Lisa Holt, executive director of Home, Health and Hospice of the county hospice foundation.

The foundation raises money to support end-of-life services provided by Jefferson Healthcare Hospice.

“It does take a team, a village, to surround a dying patient and his or her family, to educate, assess, reassure, support, relieve and to comfort,” Holt said.

Hospice care is provided to terminal patients at the end of their lives to make their final days as comfortable as possible.

The Jefferson County Hospice Foundation's annual breakfast drew more than 150 people and raised $21,500 for end-of-life care through contributions, according to event chair Cindy Thayer.

The funds raised by the hospice foundation go to needs that are not funded by Medicare.

The money raised will be allocated to an increasing need, Thayer said.

Holt said 32 patients are currently in hospice care, up 70 percent from this time last year.

The hospice foundation, established in 2009, has contributed nearly $30,000 a year to hospice services, according to board member Margaret McGee.

Foundation members hope to increase that annual amount to $50,000, she said.

Caregivers need services as well as patients.

“Caring for a dying loved one is hard work and can really take a toll,” Holt said.

“Lack of sleep mixed with the stress and grief over the impeding death can reduce the quality of life in a family just when it is most important to cherish those last days.”

Said Ann Ricker, a hospice worker in Quilcene: “There needs to be some way to give respite to all the wonderful caregivers.

“And we need to do this because no one else is going to.”

The theme of the lunch was “I Am Hospice,” with several speakers talking about their own experiences.

“My favorite part of this is the problem-solving that goes on when we figure out how to give the patients peace at the end of their lives,” said Dr. Joe Mattern, the foundation's medical adviser, who added,“I still do home visits, which will be surprising to some of you.”

Bill Maxwell, who helped to establish Jefferson County's first hospice organization in 2002, summarized the work done by hospice organizations:

“Hospice, simply put, is trained people caring for dying people,” he said.

“Think about how much you can manage to give, as together we seek to bring peace and comfort to our dying friends and neighbors.”

For information or to donate, email board President Michael Kubec at michaelkubec@cablespeed.com or phone 360-385-0610.

For information about a grief support group that meets for six Mondays beginning July 21, contact Stephanie Reith at sjreith@gmail.com or 360-385-0610.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 12. 2014 8:18PM
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