By Cynthia Robertson
Homes supported by philanthropy
Though it’s something none of us like to think or talk about, hospice care could likely be an important decision to make in a loved one’s last days of life.
Sharp HospiceCare of Grossmont Sharp Hospital has three hospice homes in the county, one in Bonita and the other two in Del Cerro and in La Mesa. The staff at the hospice homes have the know-how and compassion for easing both the patient and families through this stage of life.
Caring for patients since 1992, Sharp HospiceCare is a not-for-profit, Medicare-certified organization. Accredited by the Joint Commission and affiliated with several hospice care organizations including the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
“The first home — Lakeview in La Mesa — was donated by the [previous] owner Lorrean Tracy, who had the foresight to provide the community with this precious asset,” said Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg, senior specialist of marketing and communications at Sharp Grossmont.
The second home, ParkView Home in San Carlos, was selected for its proximity between two Sharp hospitals, Sharp Grossmont and Sharp Memorial. May 2009 is when the ParkView home was built through philanthropy.
“Every penny came from generous donors in the community that wanted to support Sharp HospiceCare,” Montemayor-Quellenberg said.
All of the HospiceCare homes have been purchased 100 percent through community support. They are staffed around the clock with registered nurses, hospice aides and a homemaker. In addition to the nursing care, hospice social workers, spiritual care counselors, music and pet therapists and physicians visit throughout a patient’s stay.
“The focus of care is to provide expert medical care for symptoms associated with the end-of-life process in addition to the provision of psychosocial, spiritual and caregiver support,” Montemayor-Quellenberg said.
All the specialized care and constant staffing at the homes translate to high operating costs, which exceed the revenue from insurance and Medicare.
“There are a number of programs and services offered to hospice patients — both in the hospice homes and in the patient’s own home — that would not be possible without the help of our generous community members. The Memory Bear program, integrated therapies such as healing touch and aromatherapy, as well as our transition program are all funded through philanthropy,” Montemayor-Quellenberg said.
Individual donations help pay for the unfunded capital and operational needs of the existing hospice homes, which can run $50,000 to $75,000 annually per home. The donations also allow for developing additional homes as well as programs to meet the growing demand for this type of care.
In addition, as a way to preserve the memory of their loved ones who have passed at the hospice homes, people can purchase bricks for donations of $1,000 as well as tiles for $10,000 for the back yard at the LakeView Home. At the Parkview Home, there is a Memorial Tree in the back yard. People can purchase personally engraved leaves for donations of $1,000 or more. Most make donations in memory of their loved ones.
“Our signature event, the annual Sharp HospiceCare Benefit Dinner and Regatta, supports Sharp HospiceCare’s Homes for Hospice program and is expected to raise over $355,000 this year,” Montemayor-Quellenberg said.
Beth Morgante, vice president and chief development officer of the Grossmont Hospital Foundation said that the Sharp Hospice Care Benefit Regatta is the largest fundraising event for Sharp Hospice Care.
“Operational expenses for each of the homes require continued monetary donations from the community, and we wouldn’t be able to provide this much-needed service without that support,” explained Morgante.
Boating enthusiasts and health care professionals flock to the annual Benefit Regatta, hosted by Sharp HospiceHome Care, Coronado Yacht Club and Cortez Racing Association.
Jack Bollinger has been a participant in the regatta, sometimes racing, other times offering his own yacht for sightseers to watch the race around the bay.
“It’s a great cause. We all know a loved one who has died from a terminal illness. Hospice is a wonderful service for them,” Bollinger said. “It is kind of like the way you think about a fire extinguisher. We never want to have to use it, but we couldn’t get along without it.”
Bill Navrides, of Sharp Grossmont Foundation, knows this first-hand. His mother-in-law passed at the ParkView home on Aug. 7 of this year.
“The care was fabulous and my wife and her siblings were blown away on how well mom was taken care and how comfortable she was for the last week of her life,” he said.
—Cynthia Robertson is a San Diego-based freelance writer. Reach her at email@example.com.