In the Arms of Hospice: The New SECU Hospice House of Brunswick
Story By Claire K. Connelly
Photography By Kristin Goode
The arms of hospice are more than welcoming — they are wide open to patients and their families dealing with life-limiting illnesses in private homes, assisted-living facilities, rest homes and nursing homes. They are a model for compassionate care and quality at the end of life.
A new addition to the umbrella of hospice care in Brunswick County is the SECU Hospice House of Brunswick, a Lower Cape Fear Hospice LifeCare Center on Mercy Lane in Bolivia. The seven-bed, 20,000-square-foot, acute medical and respite-care facility officially opened on June 24. The location is proximal to the new Brunswick Novant Medical Center and will allow Brunswick County residents to remain closer to home in their time of need.
The new center offers respite care for families who need to be away from home or are unable to care for a family member at the home for a short time. Acute care is also provided for pain and symptom management and for end-of-life care.
The new SECU Hospice House of Brunswick has the feeling of a cozy Swiss chalet. The design is intended to portray a coastal style with a modern barn effect. The exterior colors are a brilliant yellow and red. The rocking chairs on the front porch say “welcome home,” as do the beautiful courtyard areas and solace rooms.
Every possible convenience has been provided for with in-depth thought to the complications of caretaking. The bedrooms are spacious and attractive, and there are areas for family members who wish to remain in the facility overnight. Wall hangings and decorations are unique and eye-catching, and there is a delightful area for children with a large outside play area. The outside gardens and flowers also generate the feeling of serenity. The tile wall — “Impressions” — was created to enable anyone to purchase a tribute tile. The tiles create an impressive wave effect.
Relative to the children who have suffered the loss of a loved one, Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCare Center of Brunswick County plans to initiate Sunshine Camp this fall. In the camp children learn to understand their grief and acquire coping skills for now and in their future lives. Children are able to tell their own stories, in confidentiality, and grasp the real meaning of trust. They learn that death is a natural process.
Patient meals are an important part of patient care, and the meals at the Hospice Care Center are prepared by the Brunswick Novant Medical Center with patient preferences and tolerances in mind. Family meals are contributed by various organizations and are called Meals of Love. There are many volunteers involved in this outstanding program.
The lovely site for the Hospice Care Center was donated to Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter by local businessman Louie Lewis and enhanced with a donation of $1 million from the SECU (State Employees Credit Union) Foundation. The Family Wing has been named in honor of Lewis and includes living room, kitchen and dining areas with a stunning fireplace. It’s a perfect gathering place for visitors and family members.
Countless organizations and individuals were involved with fund-raising for the center. There are plans for future expansion to enable more families to participate in the Hospice Care Center experience.
It has always been the goal for hospice employees and volunteers to provide pain management and symptom reduction, along with other personal care in order to keep the patient as comfortable as possible. Psychosocial support aims to facilitate people with their convalescence and prevent consequences of potential traumatic situations. Guidance on decision-making is given, along with tips on advance care planning. Spiritual counseling and support are also part of the care process.
Hospice attracts employees who feel they have a calling to be involved with patient comfort and care. The employees constantly reference how rewarding their efforts are and how they consider it a privilege and honor to provide quality care to those with a life-limiting illness. Hospice employees often maintain ongoing communication with the family after a patient has passed away.
Billie J. McDonough, director of Patient Care Services at the Hospice Care Center, is one of those employees who loves her job. She highlights the goals of pain and symptom management, psychosocial support and family support, with a holistic approach. She finds her work the most rewarding work she has ever done. Many family members go on to donate to hospice or serve as a volunteer due to their moving experience with their loved one in hospice care.
Critical to the success of hospice is the importance of contacting them early on in a patient’s illness, just after a physician has suggested hospice be called in to assist. This gives the family members and patients more time to adjust to this wonderful focus on the beauty of life in all of its stages.
There are some common misconceptions about hospice care. Many feel that it is limited to cancer patients, but in fact hospice cares for people with many life-limiting illnesses — heart, lung and kidney diseases, dementia and Alzheimer’s among them.
Family members continually comment on the generosity, kindness, warmth and thoughtfulness of hospice personnel and share how much they were helped in coping with their own anxieties and concerns. Hospice clarifies each situation with a loving touch and hand-holding attitude. Caretakers gain mental and physical strength with hospice assisting and guiding them, and it enhances their time with an ill family member.
Many families consider hospice workers to be “angels” and it is difficult to find a more suitable reference. Personally, my mother was in hospice care while spending the last year of her life in a nursing home facility. Her face would light up each time one of her hospice “angels” appeared at her door to give her comfort and attention. I still routinely receive lovely notes from those who attended to her. Each one inspires happy memories of my mother’s time spent in their care. Hospice and the angels who conduct the caring and comforting seem to work hand-in-hand for a beautiful experience at a challenging time in life.
When you walk through the doors of the beautiful new SECU Hospice House of Brunswick, you will immediately feel the serenity. Each room carries that special feeling and you will feel that you have made the right decision for care for your beloved family member. The arms of hospice will immediately gather you into their loving family.