|Chester River Hospital Center
Postal Service Raises Hospice
Continuing its tradition of raising awareness of health and social issues through postage stamps, the United States Postal Service brought the subject of end-of-life care to the forefront in February with the nationwide issuance of the Hospice Care Stamp.
"This stamp presents an opportunity to share the message that dying well, surrounded by friends and loved ones, is an option available to all Americans," notes Ronnie Vinet, president of the Kent Hospice Foundation.
"The USPS receives about 40,000 requests a year for commemorative stamps, so this is a very selective process," said Cathy Middleton, Postmaster of the Chestertown Post Office. " It was felt on many levels that hospice services are something Americans need to know more about. We hope this helps raise that awareness."
Vinet added, "The end of human life remains one of the most sensitive subjects for discussion, but increased public education on hospice is a healthy and constructive way to let people know they do have options that give them more control over their final days."
Hospice professionals and volunteers accept death as a natural part of life, seeking neither to hasten nor prolong the dying processin short, to help terminally ill patients live out their final days in dignity in the comfort of their own home and without the fear of dying in pain and alone.
"While hospices originally treated primarily cancer patients (and still care for about half of all cancer deaths in America), those with heart and kidney disease, AIDS and Alzheimers Disease comprise a significant portion of hospice users," notes René Baker, RN, of Chester River Home Care & Hospice.
In this community hospice services are provided through the cooperative efforts of two agencies, Chester River Home Care & Hospice and the Kent Hospice Foundation. Under the direction of a physician, Chester River Home Care & Hospice provides the clinical component of hospice care nurses, social workers, home health aides, and physical, speech and occupational therapy as appropriate. Kent Hospice Foundation provides the supportive services - volunteers, group and individual counseling, bereavement and non-denominational spiritual counseling as well as fund raising for the program. The Kent Hospice Foundation provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for more than a year following the death of a loved one.
Hospices are not associated with any particular religious affiliation, and they serve patients regardless of age, gender, nationality, race, creed, sexual orientation, disability, diagnosis or ability to pay. Through comprehensive, compassionate and skillful caring, they help make life more meaningful for individuals in the final stages of life and place a premium on involving the loved ones family, friends and associates throughout the process.
"We are so grateful to the Postal Service for this stamp," said Vinet. "We know the power of a stamp to create awareness. Today there are people who are dying alone and in pain, without the compassionate support for themselves and their families that hospice provides. This stamp will help make more people aware that hospice is there for them."