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Community Hospice: A Passion Project with Humble Beginnings

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Formed with caring hearts and helping hands, Community Hospice was created to help patients facing terminal illness find solace and peace in their final days. Established in 1979, Community Hospice began as a benevolent mission by two nurses in a church basement. Out of modest beginnings, it has grown to meet the needs of Central Valley residents and beyond.

Alongside community members and volunteers, the caring professionals at Community Hospice work hand-in-hand to provide compassionate and quality care, education and support to terminally ill patients and their families. “Regardless of ability to compensate, patients and their families who are facing terminal illness can turn to the compassionate community of caring professionals at Community Hospice for end-of-life services that extend beyond traditional hospice care,” shared President/CEO C. DeSha McLeod. Today, care extends to more than 2,000 patients each year.

As a non-profit, community-based agency, Community Hospice is funded through the generous support of Central Valley residents and businesses that has allowed the expansion of services. “The Central Valley community works diligently to help support our mission. Through their dedication, we are able to focus on our patients as a unique whole, offering emotional, physical, spiritual and psychological support,” affirmed DeSha. Services include palliative care for advanced illnesses through the Community Care Choices palliative care program, pediatric palliative care and grief support services. Additional amenities include the Alexander Cohen Hospice House, which specializes in care for patients whose caregivers require short-term respite and patients with symptom management issues that require around-the-clock nursing care.

The Alexander Cohen Hospice House
“A campaign was launched in March 2001 with a challenge grant from community members June and John Rogers. Thanks to the generosity of Community Hospice board members, amazing and committed volunteers, caring staff and numerous individuals who made donations, the Alexander Cohen House vision became a reality. After a year-long campaign, a significant gift came from Leonard and Jean Cohen. Thanks to the generosity of the Cohen family and the whole community, the Community Hospice Alexander Cohen Hospice House accepted their first patient March 7, 2005,” shared DeSha.

Built on 20 acres of donated land in Hughson, the hospice house features 16 private rooms with adjoining patios, providing patients a home-like atmosphere, and includes a chapel, activity rooms for children, laundry facilities and round-the-clock nursing care. Hospice aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers who specialize in hospice care use the facilities to help families find solace while working through difficult circumstances. “The Community Hospice volunteer program is pivotal in providing a vital link with the patient, family and community members, giving thousands of hours of service annually,” noted DeSha. The grounds are beautifully groomed, offering patients and families a place to enjoy the outdoors while visiting. Patients can meander throughout the beautiful rose promenade and enjoy serene walks outdoors on pathways through
endless gardens.

Continued Support and Care
The Alexander Cohen Hospice House specializes in care for patients who need symptom management as well as those who may require short-term respite from home. Many caregivers struggle with day-to-day needs when caring for a family member with terminal illness.

“My father was on hospice services with Community Hospice for two years due to his lengthy illness,” shared Mrs. Meryl Ethier Snider. “During that time, we utilized the Alexander Cohen Hospice House on several occasions for respite care to provide Mom, his primary caregiver, a break. The hospice house was home away from home, with spacious open rooms; our large family was able to all gather comfortably creating lasting memories. I am so grateful the hospice house was an option when we needed it most.”

To become a patient at the Alexander Cohen Hospice House, a patient must first be hospice-eligible and referred by their physician. After admittance to Community Hospice, a patient’s needs are assessed by hospice physicians and nursing staff. Based on availability, patients and families can then utilize the Alexander Cohen Hospice House for short-term care in a facility that is built around the needs of patients. “Traditionally, the majority of hospice patients prefer to be at home. The hospice house is an alternative home when their private residence is no longer an option. The Alexander Cohen Hospice House provides an intimate home-like setting for our patients, allowing them and their caregivers comfort and peace-of-mind while maintaining round-the-clock nursing care,” shared DeSha.

Service Prevails
As the oldest and largest nonprofit hospice provider in Central Valley, Community Hospice has provided patients and their families compassionate care during difficult times. Through innovative ideas, Community Hospice is committed to helping all patients, both young and old, find peace and comfort during their final days. “Everyone has the right to walk their life’s journey with dignity and peace, regardless of ability to pay; that is the Community Hospice promise.”

To learn more about the Alexander Cohen Hospice House and Community Hospice services, call 209-578-6340 or visit hospiceheart.org.