Hospice Is Hope: Celebrating 45 years of service

Hospice of the Valley began as a community-based nonprofit with administration offices in a church basement. By the mid-1980s, the agency was serving 500 families. (Hospice of the Valley/Submitted)

By Debbie Shumway, Hospice of the Valley Executive Director

Hospice of the Valley is proud to be celebrating a very special milestone this year. It was 45 years ago in the fall of 1977 when a group of volunteers founded our not-for-profit community hospice. We began with just a few patients, very few staff and virtually no funding. But our commitment to serve was strong.  

We traveled from one end of the Valley to the other, serving families with volunteer doctors, nurses, social workers, nurse aides and chaplains providing compassionate care and kindness. In the early 1980s, Medicare created a hospice benefit, which gave us the opportunity to hire employees and begin serving more patients and families in need. From the early days through today, our mission has always been about delivering exceptional care.

As our community grew, we recognized the care needs of those dealing with significant health challenges but not ready for hospice.  We began creating innovative programs to support families earlier, helping them manage chronic illnesses like cancer and pulmonary and cardiac disease and providing home-based primary care for high-risk patients with advanced illness.  

Just like our hospice care, all of these programs are supported by a skilled clinical triage team that provides visit and phone support 24/7, even at night and on weekends. With community support, we recently opened a first-of-its-kind Dementia Care and Education Campus to enhance quality of life for individuals and their families living with all types and stages of dementia.

Today, Hospice of the Valley care teams provide specialized expertise in illnesses such as ALS, cancer, dementia, and heart and lung diseases. (Hospice of the Valley/Submitted)

As a not-for-profit, we are honored to be a safety net for our community. Hospice of the Valley cared for more than 22,000 patients and families this last year and provided over $12 million in charity care. Each day, I see how our care teams dedicate themselves to our mission: “Bringing comfort, dignity and compassionate care to our community.” What an honor to be here celebrating a legacy of caring that has spanned 45 years.

We could not do any of it without the amazing generosity of our community — which helps us care for all who come to us, regardless of financial resources. Every volunteer makes a lasting impact: providing companionship to patients and respite to caregivers, bringing a friendly therapy pet to brighten the day, making flower arrangements, paying tribute to veteran patients, and greeting customers at our four thrift stores. Their gifts are endless and so appreciated.

Together we are caring for our community. Thank you for your trust and for supporting us these many years. We are excited about the next 45 years and beyond!  

Debbie Shumway is executive director for Hospice of the Valley. For more information, email info@hov.org or visit hov.org.