Gainesville Daily Register

February 22, 2013

Hospice welcomes new staff member

By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer

Gainesville — Thursday’s greeting ceremony for Home Hospice of Cooke County’s most recent hire spotlighted the agency’s continuing need for volunteers.

Incoming volunteer coordinator Cathy Kinsella said she’ll be in charge of arranging volunteer efforts among the organization’s 17 programs.

This scope of service ranges from special events to patient care to office help, and Kinsella said her new title will allow her to help oversee how those roles are filled.

“I wanted to work more into the community,” she said. “Home Hospice is a great organization. And just from the nurses and aides and volunteers and chaplains and all the programs that they have, they can help the community — not only with the patient but their families as well.”

Kinsella said she recently worked for the City of Gainesville as a secretary before joining the county organization and filling a position left open by Kathi Kirby, who recently parlayed her outreach abilities into a job with the local Abigail’s Arms family crisis center.

“I was behind a computer all day,” Kinsella said. “This is actually getting me out into the community where I can meet people and get them involved.”

Hospice executive director Sherry Little said during the hiring process, the job’s winning candidate would discover big shoes to fill.

“Kathi Kirby had done an outstanding job here for seven years,” she said. “And so when we interviewed, and we had several applications, we went through several rounds of interviews. And Cathy is doing a phenomenal job. She’s been through orientation and is hitting the ground running.”

The needs of Home Hospice of Cooke County

Both Little and Kinsella said the agency is always in need of volunteers to assist with patients and their families.

“If you have five minutes or hours and hours a day, we have a job that you can do that can make a significant difference,” Little said Thursday.

The benefits of volunteering for hospice care go beyond the immediate results. Little explained that the process becomes an educational experience for the volunteer, who may inevitably face many of the same hospice-related issues in his or her own family.

“You learn things that can truly benefit you or your loved ones when that time comes for you,” she said. “Things to think about, avenues to take and what’s available.”

The director also said that currently, volunteer assistance is needed most of all with the agency’s 12th annual golf tournament. A shotgun start is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at Turtle Hill Golf Course in rural Muenster.

“All the money raised from the tournament stays in Cooke County to take care of those patients who are dying, and to those families who need resources and find themselves without insurance and without the resources for natural care,” she said on Feb. 8.

During 2012, Little explained, the all-inclusive cost for hospice patient care in Cooke County was $172 per person, per day. Hospice care includes equipment, medications and emotional support both for clients and their families, and in 2011, more than $285,000 was spent.

“At any given time, we could be taking care of 15 to 20 people,” Little said on Feb. 8. “And some of them are going to have insurance or Medicare that helps defray that expense. But some of them find themselves dying without that benefit.”

A more rare local problem is the necessity of hospice care among younger patients. Little said she has had experience overseeing the care of people who became badly ill during their forties and fifties.

“They had a job and they had insurance — and then they become ill and they lose their job and insurance,” she said on Feb. 8. “And now they’re dying without those benefits, and there are a lot of reasons why those things can happen.”

The upcoming golf tournament follows the annual holiday-themed “Light Up a Life” campaign, which began locally in 1988, and brought more than $23,000 for hospice patients during 2012.

For more information about Home Hospice of Cooke County, call (940) 665-9891. For more information about the April 21 tournament, call (940)  668-8295.