I honestly can’t believe it has been 14 years since we began our journey together! It really started in my house with a computer and a lot of fear. Not fear of how to take care of the sick and dying, that comes easy to me, but fear of filling out the paperwork required from Medicare, Medicaid, OIG, Bureau of Facility Standards, and everyone else that regulates hospice care. Finding a building to rent, hiring our first Office Manager, Becky Davis (it was at Country Kitchen because we didn’t even have a building yet), getting the phones installed, and writing policies and procedures. Kris and Todd (Owners) would put the desks together on weekends and do whatever else they could to help. It was a humbling beginning and exciting, scary, nerve racking, funny, tiring, joyful, busy, crazy, and hard. There were nights I didn’t get any sleep, but it was all for a noble cause. Our first survey was nerve racking and yet so exciting because it meant we could start billing for patients as soon as the survey was over. I loved the excitement in the air for admissions because it meant we were taking care of people!
I was born to care for the sick and dying! I’ve discovered that it is my passion, my talent, my gift, and one of the greatest loves of my life. While watching the Olympics, I heard them talk about the hours and time they have put into their sport – practicing, exercising, and studying the art of their respective event. I can’t help but compare it to what we do in hospice every day. We are helping families prepare for one of the greatest events of their lives! As their guides, mentors, and directors of the “event,” we do several hours of orientation, classroom study, testing, observing, simulated environment situations, shadowing, and learning from others. Why? To help every man, woman, and child in our communities have a comfortable and peaceful death. Surrounded by professionals that can guide them along this journey we call life. The joy I feel is almost indescribable to others when I try to explain what a beautiful thing it is that we do. Some look at me like I am crazy, (could be) but I don’t think so. Another thing that kept us up at night was worrying about our wonderful staff and making sure that their needs were met. It was a great day when we could offer health insurance, 401K, increased bereavement leave, and paid time off. Those were exciting times as well!
I have taught many people about hospice! Patients, staff, family, the community, doctors, friends, and acquaintances all in an effort to explain the beauty in what we do and how it makes me feel. I really feel like we have accomplished something that means so much to someone else. Over the years things have changed. I have seen hospice regulations and scrutiny change over time – we are audited (it seems) at every turn we take. This does not scare me anymore. It is Medicare’s effort to force us to provide great care! When you have heart like we do, no one needs to force us to do the right thing – we just do it because it is the right thing!
It has been such an incredible ride thus far! One I’ve gotten to take with my sons. What mother gets to do that? Very few people get to do that and for that I say, “what a ride!” Thank you all for your willingness to journey with us! We are honored at the privilege to walk so many patients and families through one of the most difficult times in their lives.
Cindy Lee, RN, CHPN
CEO & Owner
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC