The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 18, 2012

Hospice offers a ‘special kind of caring’

Facility puts patient care above everything else

By Sarah Plummer
Register-Herald Photographer

— Hospice of Southern West Virginia serves the community in a much-needed and loving way.

Public Relations Director Josh Jones explained that Hospice “believes in a special kind of caring” for the more than 800 patients suffering from life-limiting illnesses it serves each year.

“We really try to live up to that motto in every way by putting patient care above everything else. Since we are a nonprofit, we try to give back to the community that gives us so much,” he said.

Hospice of Southern West Virginia is the only Hospice in the southern part of the state and serves the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the terminally ill and their loved ones in Fayette, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming counties.

Hospice is best known for The Doug and Lucy Bowers House, which opened in November 2006.

Bowers Hospice House has 12 private suites, each containing a living room area and a kitchenette to provide a warm, home-like atmosphere for patients and guests.

Beckley Common Council member Chris Hall was visiting his mother, Sharon Hall, who had been in Hospice just over a week, he said.

“We feel truly blessed for my mother and my family that the Hospice staff is here and available to use. We were very concerned about Mom being comfortable and at ease in her final days, and this facility provides the opportunity, not only to comfort her, but to spend time with her family and friends in a better environment than in the hospital,” he said.

Hall added that while his family brought his mom there to be cared for, “we, as a family, feel like we are being cared for here as much as Mom is.”

Bowers House has a resident medical director, Dr. Jennie GilBhrighde, and a team of support specialists, clergy, bereavement specialists, volunteers and other support personnel provides a network of support for family members and patients.

Jones calls Bowers House a “shining example of what Hospice can do for this community” and he stressed their desire to provide support to anyone in the community who is dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Hospice Bereavement Services are offered for 13 months for families and friends of a patient. Both individual and group therapy are available and they offer special bereavement advice on coping with holidays.

“The holidays are tough and we understand that. The holiday season is the time of year we spend most with our loved ones and that’s when those memories come back. We reach out, not only to Hospice family members, but to anyone in the community who needs help after the loss of a loved one,” he said.

Therapy dog Grace is a new addition to the Hospice family.

Aaron Housh, Hospice development director, said the dog is slowly transitioning to living at Bowers House.

“Dogs provide a silent companionship that sometimes feels a lot more beneficial than what any human can offer,” said Housh. “She is able to greet people and sometimes, for a brief moment, when people see her they forget about the other things that are going on. Often patients tell stories about their animals when they see her. She helps take the focus off their health, even for just a moment.”

Jones also noted that while Hospice is well known for Bowers House, most of Hospice’s work is done in homes across the region.

“Most of our patients, if able, want to spend their final days with friends and loved ones in the homes they grew up in, and we try to accommodate their wishes when we can,” he said.

As a nonprofit, Hospice of Southern West Virginia depends on the generosity of the community for donations and volunteers to continue its services.

As an agency of the United Way of Southern West Virginia, Jones said Hospice relies heavily on the United Way’s support.

For more information on Hospice of Southern West Virginia, visit www.hospiceofsouthern wv.org.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com