July 14 marks the one-year anniversary of the ribbon cutting of the Marilyn B. and Mark E. Gustafson Center for Supportive Care on the Wooster campus of Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare. The center is the culmination of a $2.5 million campaign launched in March 2021 to repurpose an existing building into a center that houses grief counseling, volunteer services and transportation services.
One year later, the center has and continues to make a positive impact on the community, providing more individual and group counseling rooms for the Pathways of HopeSM program, a large gathering space for training and seminars for volunteers and the community, and space for the mobile care unit.
“As we continue to grow to meet the needs of the communities we serve throughout northeast Ohio, the Marilyn B. and Mark E. Gustafson Center for Supportive Care enables us to provide care and support to the patients and families we are honored and privileged to serve, as well as members of the community,” said Kurt Holmes, executive director of Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare. “The center has enabled us to expand our services, allowing for more meeting space for staff meetings and for three areas of our mission work.”
Pathways of Hope
Over the past three years, community participation in the grief groups and bereavement workshops offered by Pathways of Hope at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare has consistently increased.
“The Gustafson Center for Supportive Care has made a positive and significant impact in the delivery of bereavement services,” said David Hargrave, LSW, CCTP, CGCS, bereavement counseling professional at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare. “It has allowed us to comfortably accommodate and respond to this increased need.”
On the morning of a recent bereavement workshop, Hargrave had a group of almost 50 people call and ask if they could attend the workshop. “We were able to accommodate this request due to the space in the Center for Supportive Care,” Hargrave said. “Since the completion of this project, we were able to respond to similar situations at least three additional times this year.”
Hargrave also has been able to offer family counseling sessions in a room that can accommodate them comfortably in the center. In the past, there was not a large enough room. “The children’s bereavement room also has been an asset in helping young children express their grief in a softer and developmentally appropriate environment,” he said. “I anticipate that the space will continue to benefit our community into the future.”
The space also served as a gathering place for Camp Waves of Emotions, an annual grief camp for children. In the past, the camp shared space in the main building on Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare’s campus.
Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare offers volunteer programs to provide services and support programs that assist patients and families beyond medical care as part of the interdisciplinary care team. More than 150 volunteers contribute to patient care through defined roles under the supervision of the manager of Volunteer Services.
Volunteers can choose to provide direct patient care or indirect support. Direct care volunteers visit patients wherever they call home to provide companionship and respite for caregivers, transportation to appointments, run errands, and deliver supplies. Indirect care volunteers assist with general office duties, participate in fundraising and community education, and assist with building and grounds maintenance tasks.
Volunteer Services has benefited greatly from the additional space offered at the Center for Supportive Care. Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare hosts its volunteer support meetings in the center, which can accommodate up to 50 people meeting in one location.
“The Center for Supportive Care has made a huge impact for our volunteers. The building enables us to have a dedicated area for volunteer work,” said Elisa Stoyle, manager of Volunteer Services at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare. “Not only do volunteers receive continuing education and training in the center, but perhaps most importantly, they receive support from their peers as they navigate their current assignments.”
The Center for Supportive Care also includes a transportation hub, allowing for the growth of Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare’s mobile care unit team and space for additional vehicles.
Hospice patients often need to be transported between settings in order to receive care. This may be from home to the hospice inpatient pavilion, from the hospital to a nursing facility, or to and from a doctor’s appointment.
The mobile care unit transport service grew out of a need identified when hospice patients were experiencing long wait times because ambulance crews were being called to other non-hospice cases. In late 2022, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare added a wheelchair van and plans to add another mobile care unit in late 2023 to its transportation hub.
“As Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare continues to serve an increasing number of patients in the surrounding communities, the need for patient transportation is increasing,” Holmes said. “By providing transportation support for our patients, we’re able to ensure that our patients receive the responsive transport they need in a timely manner.”
Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare is grateful to the donors and community for their support of the center and for the lead gift from Marilyn and Mark Gustafson. In addition to staff using the building for team meetings, community groups also have used the for meetings and gatherings.
“We thank those who supported our campaign for the Marilyn B. and Mark E. Gustafson Center for Supportive Care,” said Katherine Ritchie, development director at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare. “One year after opening the Gustafson Center, we see daily how this space has made an impact on three integral areas of our mission — bereavement, volunteers and transportation. It also has provided us with additional space as our staff grows.”
Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare, a not-for-profit organization established in 1982, is an affiliate of Ohio’s Hospice that serves communities in northeast Ohio. It embodies the spirit of neighbors caring for neighbors with a commitment to relieve suffering, ease fears, and provide companionship along life’s last journey. Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare addresses patient and family needs wherever the patient calls home. Services also include access to the Stanley C. and Flo K. Gault Inpatient Pavilion, providing short-term patient care to manage acute symptoms, adjust medications, or stabilize patient condition. The Marilyn B. and Mark E. Gustafson Center for Supportive Care includes Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare’s Volunteer Services, the Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Center, and transportation service and support.