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Hospice workshop set for Shelter Island

It’s said two facts are certain in life — death and taxes.

While members of the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church can’t help you with the latter, they have arranged for representatives of East End Hospice to visit here to explain the wide ranging end-of-life services available to East End residents.

“You really have to prepare for death. It’s a process,” said Laurie Fanelli, director of the town’s Office for Senior Services. Ms. Fanelli is also a member of the church’s missionary committee, which is putting together the hospice program to be hosted at the church on Saturday, July 13. The session is open to the entire community without charge.

To those who think hospice care is mostly about administering drugs to patients, they should know that pain management may be provided when necessary, but that’s hardly the definition of the program, said missionary committee member Lynn Franklin.

“They’re helping you live as best as possible,” Ms. Franklin said.

“We want to demystify” the process of death, she added. “It’s a healing process.” She observed how hospice helped her parents cope with their illnesses. She’s living with metastatic breast cancer and wants to prepare herself to face her own demise with the assistance hospice care offers to cope with emotional and physical pain.

Hospice helps give patients and their loved ones time to share things with one another, Ms. Fanelli said, providing time to reflect and deal with the many emotions that flood a patient’s thoughts.

Failing to prepare for death cannot only rob a patient of care and support, but leave family members adrift without assistance to cope with grief, said member Colleen Smith, who has worked as a registered nurse, witnessing more than her share of people unprepared to deal with death.

Hospice care provides hope, Ms. Smith said.

The program is an appropriate followup to last summer’s “Suddenly Alone” workshop, aimed at helping people prepare for the day when the loss of a significant other would leave them without the information and resources necessary to carry on with their lives.

The needs of the aging population on Shelter Island motivated the missionary committee to tackle these subjects, said committee member Marilynn Pysher. Pastor Bob Griffin is chaplain at East End Hospice and gave the committee access to speakers who can share information with those who may have little or no knowledge of the scope of hospice care.

Speakers will include East End Hospice’s CEO Mary Crosby and a hospice social worker, nurse and minister and, likely, someone who has used hospice care for a family member.

Thanks to the generous support of the John and Elaine Kanas Family Foundation, East End Hospice maintains eight patient suites, each with a private deck and view of the woodlands, and can accommodate an overnight stay for family members or guests. A great room includes a fireplace, an adjacent kitchenette and an area for children to play.

Other patients and their families may receive hospice care at home, including pain and symptom management; emotional and spiritual support for the patient and loved ones; help in discussing difficult end-of-life issues; assistance in dealing with unresolved issues that can block communication; and support for caregivers.

East End Hospice also offers a summer day camp for children adjusting to a loss in their families. Camp Good Grief offers the typical activities that camps offer along with therapy groups and the camaraderie that allows children to help one another.

There is no charge for the workshop, but donations are appreciated. The session will be at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church on Saturday, July 13, between 9 a.m. and noon. Attendees are asked to preregister by calling Karen Tudor at (631) 749-0805 extension 5.

Attendees will receive the book, “A Comforted Heart,” signed by author Kelly Grosklags.