NVNA and Hospice: Celebrating a Century of Compassionate Patient Care

Pat Roche Hospice Home: Photo courtesy of NVNA.

Monday, October 5, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer

NVNA and Hospice -- which serves the entire South Shore community and operates the Pat Roche Hospice Home in Hingham as part of its charitable mission -- is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

In honor of this important milestone, the agency launched the Grace Campaign to raise $4.5 million by 2021; $2.8 million has already been secured toward the campaign goal.

Looking toward NVNA and Hospice's next century of care, campaign donations will help establish a fund for the future of the Pat Roche Hospice Home and expand the fund for families unable to afford room and board. In addition, the campaign will build the palliative care division.

"The Pat Roche Hospice Home offers a dignified and peaceful environment for residents facing a life-limiting illness," said NVNA and Hospice’s CEO, Renee McInnes, who is a registered nurse with over 30 years of clinical and leadership experience.

Palliative care is a holistic, person-centered approach that improves the quality of life and relieves the suffering of patients, as well as families, living with a serious illness. The focus is on the whole person and not solely on their diagnosis.

"This is how a really robust palliative program works -- supporting keeping patients at home and out of a hospital setting for as long as possible -- experiencing a good quality of life with the help of our nurse practitioners and medical director," McInnes said.

When asked about the significance of the word "grace,” McInnes said, “The campaign committee talked about different themes we could incorporate and agreed on 'grace' because to us it means helping people die with dignity while under hospice care. It also refers to the gracefulness of our clinicians, who are guests in patients' homes and have the insight and ability to gain their trust. They are so committed to doing the right thing for our patients and helping them meet their goals for their care."

To honor 100 years of service, NVNA and Hospice also introduced the Amy Sylvester Award for Healthcare Excellence. Named after its founder, the award is presented to individuals who have made an impact on national and local health care.

The first of two awards was posthumously awarded to Former First Lady Barbara Bush who was a champion for end of life care. Her granddaughter, Barbara P. Bush, Co-founder and Board Chair of Global Health Corps, accepted the award on her behalf.

Barbara Bush speaking at the Pat Roche Hospice House. Photo courtesy of NVNA.

The second award went to Fidelity Digital Assets Chief Operating Officer Michael O'Reilly, a founding member and former board chair of the NVNA and Hospice Charitable Fund. O'Reilly served as the first fundraising chair, advocating for NVNA and Hospice's mission. As a result of his leadership, community members have donated more than $9 million to the NVNA's patient care programs since 2015.

Michelle Cully, Renee McInnes, Barbara P. Bush, Mike O'Reilly, Jane Steinmetz, Bob Terravecchia. Photo courtesy of NVNA.

Property Donated in 1959

The Pat Roche Hospice Home has a long and interesting history. Polly Thayer Starr donated the Turkey Hill property -- which had been her parents' summer home -- to the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends in 1959 for use as a rest home.

The Thayer summer home (rebuilt after a fire) in a photo
taken around 1933. It is now the Pat Roche
Hospice Home. Photo courtesy of NVNA.

The Georgian-style house featured blue tiles imported from Japan, Italian marble fireplaces and a library mantel featuring carved woodwork from England.

In 1999, Starr donated the adjacent 75-acre Weir River Farm to the Trustees of Reservations, to be preserved for public use.

In 2011, the Friends closed the New England Friends Home, and in 2013, the NVNA partnered with Campus for Caring to purchase the home as a hospice residence for the South Shore region.

As the result of community investment, extensive improvements and renovations were made to the property that replicated the original house, woodwork and furniture as true as possible to its original design.

Guests enjoyed an amazing sunset on the grounds of The Pat Roche Hospice Home in Hingham at "The 12." Photo courtesy of NVNA.

Lifting Family Members

The same level of service is provided to patients in the Pat Roche Hospice Home that they would have received at home through the NVNA -- including the services of a chaplain, social worker and clinician.

"The Pat Roche Hospice Home is as much for patients' families as it is for the patients. Family members are often exhausted, stressed out and out of their comfort zone when caring for their loved ones at home," McInnes said. "We keep our residents comfortable and help them manage any kind of pain and suffering they are going through. We want living there to be a wonderful experience, while at the same time lifting the anxiety off of their circle of support."

Spiritual and Emotional Support Offered

The staff at the Pat Roche Hospice Home is committed to providing patients with a comfortable and peaceful way to spend their final days, offering spiritual and emotional support while surrounded by their loved ones.

Even amidst the COVID-19 challenge, the Pat Roche Hospice Home has had a wait list and the overall hospice program has grown to include about 100 patients. "Many of our residents at the Pat Roche Hospice Home go there after being part of our at-home hospice program when they start needing 24/7 care, which is hard for their families to provide," McInnes said.

Photo by Scott Eisen/NVNA.

Unlike some nursing homes and other facilities, family visits are allowed as long as health and safety protocols are followed. Visitors' temperatures are taken at the door, face masks are required, social distancing is in place and they are asked to head directly for their loved one's room.

Each patient has a private room, and there are also a library, tearoom, outside porch and patio, beautiful in-season gardens, a family room with a full kitchen and two welcoming suites for out-of-town family members visiting their loved ones; however, the common areas are not currently in use due to COVID-19.

Services include round-the-clock care as needed, assistance with personal care from home health aides, three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry service and visits from the hospice team that includes their physician, registered nurse, social worker, chaplain, bereavement counselor and volunteers as needed and desired.

"We're fortunate to be operating with a full staff and the help of generous volunteers, who are all extremely careful about keeping everyone safe. We are really blessed," McInnes said.

Support for Staff

One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic has not only been working tirelessly to ensure everyone's health and safety, but also supporting the staff.

"During a pandemic when things are shut down, other anxieties and fears surface about your job, your children and other issues that weigh on the minds of those who are caring for patients," McInnes said. "Fortunately, we didn't need to furlough any of our employees. I kept assuring them that they and the NVNA would be okay, to help alleviate their anxiety so they could [go about their business of caring for our patients]."

Photo by Scott Eisen/NVNA.

In reality, she said, NVNA and Hospice "didn't have a lot of COVID-19 cases, unlike the big cities. My heart goes out to those communities that experienced high COVID-19 rates. While the Commonwealth’s average positive test rate remained under one percent in September, NVNA and Hospice is prepared for any increase in COVID-19 patients throughout the fall and winter."

NVNA has A Long History

When the NVNA first opened its doors in 1920, its purpose was to provide essential health services and education to the Norwell community. Ironically, the NVNA opened in the wake of the Spanish flu pandemic, and 100 years later, NVNA and Hospice’s staff is assisting patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the years, as NVNA and Hospice grew into a certified homecare agency, it earned the reputation of providing quality home health care and other services to 27 communities on the South Shore.

Hal and Mary Thomas at home in Hingham; photo by Alex Jones. Visit their website at www.alexjonesphoto.com.

The agency went from three nurses to 300 staff members serving an average overall caseload of 700 patients, including caring for about 100 hospice patients at any given time. Led by a volunteer Board of Directors, NVNA and Hospice provides the full continuum of care – everything from wellness and public health services in the community, a clinical specialty program, palliative care, rehabilitation therapy, bereavement services and more. It also offers a full range of private pay home care services through its non-profit affiliate NVNA WORKS. Service areas include companion care, homemaking, personal care, and private nursing.

Generous Donations

The NVNA and Hospice Board of Directors invested in a philanthropic platform in 2014. Recognizing the need for charitable support to sustain the hospice house, a fundraising Board of Trustees was established. Thanks to the generous support of the community investing in the mission, NVNA and Hospice has raised over $9 million for patient care.

As a local, independent, non-profit organization, NVNA and Hospice does not turn away families due to financial circumstances. "We usually have at least two free-care patients in the house at any one time," McInnes said.

The cost of providing hospice services far exceeds the reimbursement that NVNA and Hospice receives from Medicare and other sources, which leaves a financial gap that can only be filled by philanthropy.

For more information about the NVNA and Hospice, call (781) 659-2342 or visit www.nvna.org.

For those who would like to make a donation to the Grace Campaign, an online form is available at: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E12646&id=1.

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