Regina Bodnar, Carroll Hospice’s executive director, said hospice care should be a personal experience, not a medical one.
For more than three decades, Carroll Hospice has provided end-of-life care to terminally ill patients and their families in Carroll County and its surrounding areas. The program provides hospice care directly, and in cooperation with, a patient’s physician and family in a comfortable environment — most often the patient’s home.
Care is also provided at the Dove House, Carroll Hospice’s inpatient facility.
“Hospice is an interdisciplinary model,” Bodnar said. “The pioneers for hospice in this country were absolutely brilliant. This is not physician-led, this is not nurse-led. This end-of-life requires a team of professionals with varied skills and talents.”
Carroll Hospice is one of five beneficiaries of Holiday Hope, the Times’ annual campaign aimed at driving donations to organizations that help those in need in the Carroll County community. Now in its 22nd year, Holiday Hope raised more than $120,000 for local nonprofit organizations last year. In addition to Carroll Hospice, the Times and partner NWSB Bank, a division of ACNB Bank, raise funds for Access Carroll, Carroll County Food Sunday, Human Services Programs of Carroll County and The Shepherd’s Staff.
Bodnar is in her fifth year as executive director of Carroll Hospice and she is responsible for providing patients and their families with the best interdisciplinary team that is prepared to work directly with patients and their families to provide intimate hospice care.
No one member of the team is more important than the other, she said, and these teams are made up of physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains.
Bodnar said the Holiday Hope initiative has helped raise awareness about Carroll Hospice and end-of-life care in general. Dollars raised for the organization help families memorialize their loved ones and unrestricted funds give Carroll Hospice the flexibility to do something special that compliment’s a patient’s story.
“I’ve been doing hospice in Maryland for a long time and when I got to Carroll, I thought I knew everything I needed to know,” Bodnar said. “What was so evident to me early on was that this hospice was different. It was so wedded into the fabric of the community and it’s just awesome.
“Not only do we want to meet the needs of the community, serve the community, and care for the community, but the community also embraces us.”
The 21st annual Taste of Carroll culinary event originally scheduled to take place in April was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event is held at Carroll Hospital on the last Monday of April and welcomes about 650-700 people to at least 40 vendors in the market.
Instead, Taste of Carroll was reimagined in a mobile, silent auction that ran for four days and allowed people to bid on similar items that would have been offered at a silent auction during the in-person event.
“I have to praise the tenacity of an incredible committee that pulled off this virtual event with great success,” Bodnar said. “We did not raise the dollars that we typically do, but we considered it incredibly successful.”
Bodnar said the bereavement team at Carroll Hospice is “second to none,” and the counselors oversee the organization’s grief support groups, which are open to the entire community. The team usually meets with families on a monthly basis, but are now meeting weekly because, due to the pandemic, many people were unable to see their loved ones before they died.
Carroll Hospice hosts a holiday workshop for bereaved families and the team also does a “Season to Remember” event to acknowledge and celebrate the lives of those who died in the past year. Those events have gone virtual this year, Bodnar said, but Carroll Hospice is still committed to making sure they’re personal.
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“Our team does such a great job in caring for people in end-of-life and supporting families,” Bodnar said. “Now we have that new appreciate for the pain that comes with not being able to be with loved ones.”