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Dear Friends,

Recent census data estimates show that the number of Hunterdon County residents over the age of 65 has grown 5% since 2010 and is expected to reach 25% of the total population within 15 years. Not surprising, then, has been the increasing demand for home care services from Hunterdon Regional Community Health (HRCH). The four programs HRCH operates, Hunterdon Hospice, Visiting Health and Supportive Services (home health aides), Briteside Adult Day Center, and Integrative Medicine offer expert nursing personnel to families and individuals who are struggling with chronic diseases, disabilities, and the challenges of daily living. But, Medicare and Medicaid funding for our programs is sorely inadequate to insure that we are able to meet the entire demand for this specialized health care service.

We ask for your help by contributing to Hunterdon Regional Community Health and partnering with us in preserving the human dignity and individuality of every person we serve. Your donation supports our dedicated caregivers and provides the resources they need to give the best care possible to people in our community. To learn how your support makes a difference, please read the story below.

You can donate by visiting foundation.hunterdonhealthcare.org and selecting one of our services as the recipient of your gift or making a general donation to HRCH.

Gratefully,

Don Pinner, FACHE
Senior Vice President
Hunterdon Regional Community Health

Christina O’Malley
Senior Vice President
Hunterdon Healthcare Foundation

Hunterdon Hospice, Visiting Health and Supportive Services (VHSS), Briteside Adult Day Center, and Integrative Medicine all work together to care for those in need. We’d like to share with you one story about this collaboration (all names and personal details have been changed to protect confidentiality).

Hunterdon Hospice recently admitted a gentleman to our service - let’s call him Joe - who was residing at a local nursing home. Joe had been discharged from Hunterdon Medical Center after declining further treatment for his cancer. It was recommended Joe remain at the nursing home because he lived alone and had no family. However, Joe was fully capable of making his own decisions, was alert and focused. He missed his dog, Lucy. He had been told Lucy could come to visit him at the nursing home but that was not the case once he arrived.

In the early evening one night not long after Joe had been admitted to our service, our on-call nurse received a telephone call from the nursing home informing us that "the patient ran away." Apparently, Joe signed himself out of the nursing home against medical advice and a close friend picked him up and took him away.

The next morning, Hunterdon Hospice staff and our chaplain held a long discussion about Joe, his right to make his own decisions, his safety, his care needs and our ability to provide them. After the morning’s discussion, we decided Hunterdon Hospice should continue to care for this man. We called his friend and the Hunterdon Hospice care team met Joe and his friend at Joe's home later that day.

Each and every one of the team – the four Certified Home Health Aides from VHSS, nurses, social workers, volunteers, and chaplain – made it possible for this individual to stay home with his beloved dog.

This task was challenging – Joe’s house was very cluttered and dirty, he frequently fell and called for help in the middle of the night, and often refused care offered to him. But the care team never forgot his humanity. They showed kindness and respect; they didn't try to talk him out of living alone; they hid their frustration when he made decisions that went against recommendations for his safety; they supported his friend who was so weary; they gave the dog treats. At the heart of our team were the devoted aides who came and spent time with him, kept him clean, and called us with their concerns about changes in Joe’s behavior.

Volunteers would also visit and just be present. Joe was a Veteran and for the last two Veterans' days, volunteers who had also served in the military performed a service recognition ceremony at his home and gave him a certificate and special Veteran pin (one of the few times he would smile).

Joe was eventually moved to a Veterans nursing home and his devoted aide made sure he was bathed and ready. He took the poster one of our nurses made for him of Lucy wearing bunny rabbit ears at Easter. Joe waved goodbye to his nurse and social worker from the ambulance. Our volunteer coordinator and his volunteer were also present to send him off with a sign from the Hunterdon Hospice team.

The coordinated efforts of VHSS and Hospice enabled Joe to stay in his home for two years. Although it was not easy or necessarily cost effective for Hunterdon Hospice, it was the right thing to do. Living this way was Joe's choice. This experience was the purest form of hospice care: supporting an individual's self-defined quality of life – not how we would want him to live but how he wanted to live.

 

 

 

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HHF Events

 

The Hunterdon Medical Center Auxiliary and Hunterdon Healthcare Foundation are proud to announce the 38th ANNUAL CRYSTAL BALL to be held on Saturday, November 17th, beginning at 6 pm at The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.  This will be a black tie affair.