Carroll Hospice Executive Director Regina Bodnar talks about the work of Carroll Hospice. (Jon Kelvey/Carroll County Times)
There’s a question they like to pose to patients at Carroll Hospice, according to Executive Director Regina Bodnar.
“What would make your day special?” she said. “How can we make this the best day possible?”
That’s just one way, Bodnar said, that Carroll Hospice goes beyond providing mere physical and medical support to people who have come to the Carroll Hospice Dove House, in Westminster, in their end of life journey.
It’s not asked as a rhetorical question, either.
“We had a gentleman who had a birthday coming up and he said, ‘I just want a cake, and I’d like vanilla ice cream and I’d like a card with $10 in it.’ We said, ‘We’ve got it,’” Bodnar said. “We’ve had wedding celebrations here, we just had a 50th anniversary celebration here — It’s all about making this end of life journey all about living till the last moments.”
Carroll Hospice is one of five beneficiaries of Holiday Hope, an annual campaign with the Carroll County Times aimed at driving donations to organizations that help those in need in the Carroll County community. In addition to Carroll Hospice, the Times also partners with Carroll Food Sunday, Human Services Programs’ Neighbors in Need Year Round, Access Carroll and The Shepherd's Staff. This year, the Holiday Hope campaign goal is to raise $110,000 for the five organizations by Christmas. To participate in Holiday Hope, readers need only clip the advertisement that appears in the paper every day between now and Christmas, or go to www.carrollcountytimes.com/holidayhope and print out the form.
That sort of community is vital for hospice, because as Bodnar’s story about the patient and his birthday celebration illustrates, Carroll Hospice does a lot more than provide health care in a hospice environment. While that basic hospice care is a covered Medicare benefit, much of what Bodnar said makes Carroll Hospital a unique place is not.
Bereavement services for instance.
“All of our bereavement work is not compensated at all — our compensation stops once the patient dies,” Bodnar said. “We care for the family for 13 months after that.”
Carroll Hospice even employs a child life specialist, Bodnar said, who “helps children navigate the grief experience and tries to normalize it for those that truly can’t understand and grasp it.”
And in addition to caring for patients and families, Carroll Hospice also supports the broader community through support groups accessible even to those who have never had a loved one in a hospice experience.
“We took a step back and said, what does our community need? That’s where the support groups for substances abuse and those who had lost a loved one came about,” she said. “We touched over 4,000 individuals last year in our community, supporting those who have lost loved one’s related to substance abuse, for those that have lost a child.”
The community has noticed this, Bodnar said, and has been incredibly generous in supporting Carroll Hospice through numerous fundraising efforts, including the annual Holiday Hope campaign. It was one of the most pleasant surprises, she said, when she first came to Carroll Hospice two years ago.
“The support from the Carroll community is incredible and we depend on it,” she said. “All of those dollars as they come to us help us personalize the care. They make this end of life journey as easy as it can be for patients and their families.”