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If the end of summer leaves you feeling blue, maybe what you need is a little retail therapy. If you do your shopping at participating businesses on Aug. 28, you can support Hospice & Home Care of Juneau at the same time. On that day, 13 local retailers have agreed to donate 10 percent of their gross sales to HHCJ. Eighteen other businesses have given generous donations in lieu of the 10 percent. Even though we know Juneau is a small town with a big heart, we were still overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to our request for financial support.
So why are these businesses so willing to donate their hard earned money to Hospice & Home Care? For Zeela Bryn Mawr, owner of Natural Nails, it is because HHCJ was there when she needed them. Zeela's partner, Tim Wood, was diagnosed with cancer in August of 1999. Tim underwent treatment for almost two years before he was told that he had reached the end of the medical road. HHCJ entered their lives three weeks later. Zeela told me, "I was familiar with hospice care, so I welcomed the team into our lives. Everyone was completely respectful of Tim's schedule and of Tim's desire to be in control of his care. There was so much I could do for him myself, but I absolutely needed Hospice & Home Care for controlling Tim's pain."
Zeela appreciated the volunteer who came to do dishes, laundry and shopping. Tim appreciated the visits by social worker, Jamie McLean, who gently and skillfully, asked the hard questions and helped him prepare for his final day. "I couldn't have done it without them. Bob and Mary, the nurses, knew exactly what to do for Tim. Pain control and seizure control, especially near the end, were crucial. Tim was able to maintain good quality of life right up until he died." I loved listening to Zeela, noticing how the love story was never dwarfed by the medical details. And noticing, too, that Zeela and Tim's relationship was nurtured and supported by the HHCJ team. I feel proud every time I hear a Hospice & Home Care success story.
Now in its 25th year, HHCJ is the only nonprofit home health agency in Juneau. HHCJ serves those who are temporarily homebound due to illness or who need care after surgery, along with people who are suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses. HHCJ is a full-service home health and hospice agency. They are equipped to offer a variety of medical disciplines including: skilled nursing care, home health aides, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, infusion therapy, social service support, volunteers, free medical equipment loans, bereavement support and patient and family education. As a program of Catholic Community Service, its support has expanded to include: Care Coordination, The Bridge Adult Day Program, Care-A-Van, Meals on Wheels, Caregiver Support and much more. Our community is so blessed to have access to a continuum of care with this quality and range.
At the end of our conversation, Zeela said, "I just want to say that Hospice & Home Care is priceless. They really understand that the patient comes first, that the patient is in charge. The people who helped Tim and me were great listeners, experts at pain control, and offered a lot of valuable, non-medical support, too. They were always open to suggestions. I believe they learn from each family contact, and so are always sharpening their skills."
For 25 years, HHCJ has been committed to caring for this community. But with medical reimbursements being less and the cost of drugs and medical equipment costing more, HHCJ is always looking for ways to fill the gap. For the consumer, home health care continues to be the least expensive form of health care available. In less than ten years, one out of every American will be over the age of 65. Let's make sure HHCJ will be there for us when we need it.
So mark your calendars for Aug. 28, then get out your shopping list or call a friend and invite them to lunch. Participating businesses include, Alaskan Dames & Gents, Alaskan Serenity Massage Therapy, Annie Kaills, Capital Records, Custom Cuts, El Sombrero, Foodland Super Drug, Friendly Planet Trading Company, Natural Nails, Rainbow Foods, Seventh Heaven, Southeast Waffle Company and Susan's Hallmark. And please remember to tell each retailer how much you appreciate them supporting Hospice & Home Care of Juneau.
Mary Cook is a volunteer with Hospice & Home Care of Juneau, a program of Catholic Community Service. CCS serves all persons regardless of their faith.