A Conversation With a Grassroots Pioneer: Gwynne Gibson
More than 30 years ago, Gwynne Gibson, along with several other members of the community, saw a significant need in Washington Court House for comprehensive and compassionate end-of-life care. Springing into action, with no office to speak of, they began promoting the concept of hospice from the “trunk of their cars.” Here’s what Gwynne has to say about her experience helping to found Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County and being an integral part of its growth.
Q. How did Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County get started?
A. Our nurses carried their supplies, and those of us in administration carried our business from the trunk of our cars, which became an early slogan. Through the years, we have had two donated business offices and three rented spaces. Now, we have our own building and many more resources.
Our main leader of the movement was a local retired nurse, Jean Ann Tracy, who is now deceased. After some groundwork, that first small group advertised for locals who were interested to meet the hospice team from Madison County to learn about the program. Forty people showed up, and the rest is history!
Q. What drew you to the hospice cause?
A. I was first introduced to hospice care in the mid 1980s when my mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As my mother’s disease progressed and there was no hope for a cure, her oncologist recommended their local hospice for her care. We knew nothing of hospice before then and could not have been more impressed with her level of care and her nurses’ concern for her. It was so comforting to know there was someone I could call 24/7 if I needed help.
My own hospice work has kept me continually impressed with what hospice can do. My greatest hope is that we can get patients and their families involved earlier in the process. So often we do not have enough time to serve the entire family with all the care possible.
Q. How did Hike for Hospice begin?
A. The hike for Hospice began as a gift from our local church. The congregation understood the value of hospice care, so they sponsored the first few walks as a way to spread awareness. When the hike started in the 1980s there were about 50 participants, now we have as many as 500! Many have literally grown up with the hike, and now bring their own children. Rain, snow or sleet — the hike goes on! It has become a happy community event.
Q. What would you say to anyone interested in supporting the cause?
A. To see hospice care grow so much in three decades is such a great reward, but there is still more to do. We must spread awareness that patients get better when their lives improve with hospice care. We are here to help with pain management and also help the patients and families cope with the pain of loss. When all parts of the care circle can be used, that’s when Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County really shines.
For more information on how you can help support Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County, please contact 740.335.0149. Thanks to our pioneer and current board chair, Gywnne Gibson, for her service to the organization.
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