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Editorial: Hospice needs your help to build residence
The East End Hospice may have its offices in Westhampton but, unlike a lot of institutions based on the South Fork, it has deep connections on Shelter Island. As if to prove the point, the annual cocktail party and auction held on June 9 at the Yacht Club raised a record of more than $87,000, event Chairperson Kathy Zarchin reported at a Town Board work session a couple of weeks ago.
At the same meeting, Hospice CEO Priscilla Ruffin told the story of one of the very first people that Hospice caregivers helped when the organization was founded 21 years ago. She was a Harelegger, a woman of modest means who lived alone. She had been born on the Island and wanted to die here. As Ms. Ruffin remembered it, her Shelter Island neighbors worked with Hospice to organize 24-hour care, setting an example for the entire Hospice organization that illuminated “the real spirit” of its essential mission and purpose.
Since then, East End Hospice has helped about 9,000 East End residents face fatal illness in their own homes, among family and friends in familiar surroundings.
Funding is always a challenge for Hospice because reimbursements don’t come anywhere near paying all the bills. Adding to the challenge is a growing trend, Ms. Ruffin explained: there are fewer people these days living at home with terminally ill patients, people who can care for them. Only 65 to 75 percent of Hospice clients, she said, now have someone in the house to help between Hospice visits. Adding to the problem are the rising number of patients undergoing treatments “right to the end” that make them even sicker and more challenging to care for. To give at least some of these patients an alternative to spending their final days in a hospital, East End Hospice is building an eight-bed residence in Quiogue and so far has raised $5.5 million to fund it: “But we have a ways to go,” Ms. Ruffin said. Go to eeh.org for more information on how to help.