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Hospice a saving grace Richard Peña | Sat, Apr 07 2012 12:00 PM

It was in the last few weeks of the past year that we learned the true objective of the organization known as hospice. 

And with it we learned of the extreme importance of making the remaining days as pleasant and as comforting as possible for those who will soon depart this life.  It is believed that every person deserves the best end-of-life care, something that promotes a well-done type of feeling to patient and family members alike.  My late wife, Zula, received this care from San Diego Hospice, a group of professionals and volunteers who came in the home on a daily basis.

The other day we learned that another local, Susan McMillin, went through a similar experience.  I met with Susan and her husband Scott, through Barbara Scott, a mutual friend,  at the Bonita Museum and we spoke of hospice along with related things.  The McMillin family, as you might recall, are long time residents of the South Bay.  Scott is the chairman of the board of the Corky McMillin Companies, a family enterprise that was founded by the late Corky McMillin.  With this standing in the community also come the responsibilities in philanthropic endeavors, a task of which he is well aware.  And hospice is one of these.

In Susan McMillin’s case it was the loss of her grandmother.  Her grandmother, as in the case of many, was someone to whom she was very close.  She, therefore, was comforted to see this matron whom she no doubt loved deeply spend her last days in a home that was devoted to make one’s final days as comforting as possible.

Her grandmother was in one of the homes that are currently operated by Sharp HospiceCare.  These are homes for families who choose to have out of home care for those no longer able to be self-sustaining.  The families wish to assure that their loved ones are in homes that receive the palliative and endearing aid that they would receive at home. Her home was the Lakeview Home in La Mesa.  The hospice homecare also operate one other home, the Parkview that is in Del Cerro.

The two homes operated by Sharp HospiceCare have been around since 1991.  To date more than 17,000 individuals and their families have received comprehensive care from highly trained and dedicated professionals and volunteers.  Staff members provide care in a homelike environment that features private patient rooms, a room for family gatherings, home cooked meals and gardens reminding patients of home.

This year Sharp Hospice is planning another facility, this one in the South Bay.  This is not a simple endeavor.  McMillin tells me that it would require a minimum of $2-million to build and operate.  The property must be spacious, at least an acre and the building must be substantial, large enough to house a half dozen or so patients and visiting rooms for family members or other visitors.

The facility, similar to the two in service, would blend in with the neighborhood.  It would, in other words, be similar to other structures in the area.  Patients and their families would then have that home feeling, the one aspect that makes most of us feel comfortable and at ease.

Scott and Susan McMillin are co-chairs of the Homes for Hospice Advisory Board.  The two homes that are currently in existence were made possible by generous contributions from donors, that is, ordinary citizens of the community who see the worth of such endeavors. The South Bay home would be financed in a similar manner.  Those interested may contact the Homes for Hospice Campaign Office at the Grossmont Hospital.

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