Dr. Gary LeRoy serves on the Board of Trustees for Hospice of Dayton. As a family practitioner, Dr. LeRoy sees the possibility of enabling a loved one to die at home instead of in a hospital as an act of love, an act of generational devotion. “When a disease diagnosis leaves no hope for cure, hospice services are designed to support quality of life and help the family through the journey of loss,” says Dr. LeRoy. “Hospice of Dayton can help families by providing in-home visits from physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, home health aides and volunteers to help meet the needs of patients. Medical equipment such as hospital beds, oxygen and portable toilets can be delivered to the home to help patients continue to remain comfortably at home.”
Medications and supplies for the terminal diagnosis are routinely included in hospice care and the costs are typically covered through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. “Even patients who are not covered through such programs can receive care from Hospice of Dayton at no cost,” Dr. LeRoy stresses. “As a non-profit hospice provider and thanks to donations from the community, Hospice of Dayton provides care for any eligible patient regardless of ability to pay.
Beyond caring for the patient, hospice services are also geared to go above and beyond in an effort to care for family members. “Grief counseling for family members is also available at no cost and extends for over a year after the loss of a loved one in hospice care. The Pathways of Hope grief counseling program at Hospice of Dayton also offers grief counseling to anyone in the community who needs it, regardless of whether hospice services were ever used.”
Dr. LeRoy is quick to offer clarification about some of the myths about hospice care. “Many people believe hospice care is only for those with cancer. Actually Hospice of Dayton provides care for patients with a variety of diagnoses including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respiratory diseases, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, HIV/AIDS, liver disease, kidney failure, stroke and coma.” Dr. LeRoy also notes that many patients who receive hospice care continue to live and have a high quality of life beyond the six-month life expectancy upon which hospice admission is based. “While physicians refer patients into hospice care when they believe patients are in decline and not expected to survive beyond six months, the reality is that some patients do very well with the concentrated care provided by hospice and can survive for years. Hospice patients who meet eligibility requirements are not bound by time limits and can continue to receive services as needed.” Patients can also continue to see their regular doctor. The caring, patient-focused physicians of Hospice of Dayton serve as specialists and consultants, but do not replace the family doctor as the primary caregiver.
While some hospices require patients to stop all treatments, Hospice of Dayton permits patients to continue to receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments designed to ease pain and offer comfort.
Dr. LeRoy recommends that families discuss end-of-life care to assure that individual wishes can be respected and honored. “It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s important for families to know what loved ones want in terms of end-of-life care. Those who love you will want to do everything they can to respect your wishes,” Dr. LeRoy says. “Our family ties are so strong, but sometimes even the strongest family can’t meet every need without help. Hospice of Dayton is a resource that can help when families need it most.”
Larry Glickler was new to Dayton and only 25 years old when he became the owner of a funeral home and began his passion for Hospice of Dayton. “A representative from Hospice of Dayton came to a meeting of funeral directors and asked for volunteers. I volunteered and I never left.” Thirty years later, Larry is still involved with The Hospice of Dayton as a volunteer with the Hospice of Dayton Foundation Development Committee and Ethics Committee.
He is proud of his decades of dedication to the mission and philosophy of hospice, and proud to be part of the historical legacy of the organization. Larry was a member of the first Board of Directors. As the demand for hospice services grew, so did the realization that some of the patients being served were too sick to remain in their home, but they did not want to be hospitalized and faced with futile, unwanted procedures and treatments. The idea of building a care center to meet the needs of patients came at the same time Larry assumed the role of President of the Board. He introduced the motion to build the care center and helped spearhead the capital campaign to make it a reality.
He credits Carol Cline, whose gift was at the time the single largest donation, for enabling construction of the facility. Larry takes most pride in the fact that The Hospice of Dayton serves everyone equally, regardless of ability to pay, and regardless of cost of care. “We never turn anyone away,” Larry says. “What is most dear to my heart, “ Larry shares, “is how often I’ve talked with families who have had an experience at The Hospice of Dayton and they talk with me about the “angels” at hospice and the wonderful care their loved one received. It makes me proud to be a part of it.”
Jerry Gump always has stories to share. Sharing is what comes naturally to Jerry. That’s why he became a volunteer for hospice in 2005.
He was just a few years into his retirement after a thirty year career as a Housing Inspector for the City of Middletown when doctors diagnosed his wife of 35 years with small cell lung cancer and gave her three months to live. Jerry says “we knew it was incurable but we fought the good fight. She lived 22 months after diagnosis.” Becoming a hospice volunteer was an easy decision for Jerry. “It was a chance for me to give back,” Jerry says. “Hospice did so much for us. We appreciated the nurses and home health aides that cared for my wife. Hospice helped give her more time and helped us keep her at home.”
Jerry has taken on all kinds of assignments for hospice, but his most frequent role is that of a visitor, sharing stories with patients, helping take them to the grocery, to the doctor or for treatments. He was visiting a patient one Sunday afternoon when the “dry hurricane” hit. As the winds whipped up, Jerry tried to get onto the patio to move furniture so it wouldn’t be damaged, but was unable to open the door because of the air pressure. The glass topped patio table was smashed. When he returned home he found a huge limb from the neighbor’s tree in his driveway. “It fell exactly where my van would have been parked if I’d been home,” Jerry says. “I took it as a sign that I was where I needed to be.”
All of the patients and families whose lives Jerry has touched would agree. As a hospice volunteer, he is exactly where he needs to be.
There is no one more dedicated to the Hospice of Dayton mission than Judy Cole. Judy, a widow and mother of two, joined Hospice of Dayton as a volunteer following her husband’s death in May, 2006.
She had retired from her job and sought a new and meaningful role. She found it at Hospice of Dayton. Judy often serves as a listening ear to someone who is having a rough time during the end of life journey. Whether she is greeting people as a receptionist, talking to a new patient on the phone, assembling a packet of grief materials, mentoring a new volunteer, making a medical supply kit, attending a patient Quality of Life meeting, sewing a Memory Bear, or filing records, Judy is putting her heart and soul in walking beside patients.
She is an exceptional volunteer and exemplifies the essence of the Heart of Hospice Award with a heart that beats love and care. Judy was honored with the Heart of Hospice award from the Ohio Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the top Ohio honor for hospice volunteers, in 2009. Her tremendous dedication to the Hospice of Dayton mission is reflected in her dedication and commitment to the hospice mission.