Hope Hospice CEO Deb Houser, marking the non-profit organization’s approaching 30th anniversary, announced at a recent gathering of physicians and healthcare executives several new initiatives and the addition of new staff members.

Hope staff changes

Houser named Adrienne Ruggles, RN, BSN, as director of Patient Care Services in July. Ruggles has been with Hope Hospice since 2011 and has worked in hospice care since 2009.

Ruggles has recently expanded the Hope Hospice Patient Care Team to include four clinical leaders, 12 registered nurses, six licensed vocational nurses and 18 certified nursing assistants. This expansion is part of an ongoing effort to continue to invest in the quality of patient care Hope Hospice provides. Specifically, the increased number of certified nursing assistants enables Hope’s patients to receive more frequent and longer personal assistance and homemaking services, greatly adding to the comfort of the patients and support to their caregivers.

Lisa Gladstone, RN, with more than a decade of experience in the healthcare industry and management, has recently joined Hope Hospice as director of business development.

Lisa is building a team of marketing professionals to represent Hope Hospice in the nine counties Hope serves. Joining her team are Laura Williams, Holly Ennis and T.J. Brocker. Each is local to this area and has prior customer service experience in the healthcare industry. Bethany Valencia, RN, completes the marketing team as community education consultant.

Kathleen Krueger, former mayor pro-tem of New Braunfels and wife of former Ambassador Bob Krueger, has accepted a position as public relations coordinator, with an emphasis on fundraising, special events and media relations.

Kinder Hope

Hope Hospice officially presented the Kinder Hope program to the healthcare community on Thursday.

Kinder Hope expands Hope’s current pediatric hospice services to also include perinatal hospice care. Perinatal hospice, which serves infants from 20 weeks gestation to 20 weeks post-partum, is for expectant parents who, sadly, know even before birth that their infant is likely facing a limited life expectancy.

Hope Hospice is one of only three hospices and six other agencies in Texas to provide such unique, sensitive and important care before, during and after such a tragic loss.

Hope Hospice sent key staff to receive additional training in the fall of 2012, and the program’s first newborn was delivered at Central Texas Medical Center welcomed into the world on Dec. 31, 2012.

Kayleigh Hope Cowan was held and loved by her parents and family for four days before she died peacefully, surrounded by those she loved. Her parents, Dan and Jodie Cowan, spoke at Thursday’s event.

Dan Cowan expressed his family’s gratitude to the physicians, nurses and other staff from CTMC, Dell Children’s Hospital and Hope Hospice who were involved in caring for Kayleigh and supporting her family.

“Families facing a serious condition for their unborn child will often have many individuals and agencies involved: obstetricians, perinatologists, labor and delivery staff and other experts,” said Dr. Elaine Gwosdz-Gilman, chief medical officer for Hope Hospice.

“The Kinder Hope program not only offers invaluable emotional support, but it helps to coordinate the care of all these unique providers, making this journey a little easier for the family. Our team really knits together these individual teams and helps all of them prepare for the baby and to celebrate his or her life.”

Equine therapy

Hope Hospice is partnering with Oasis Acres in LaVernia to provide equine therapy to youth impacted by the death of a loved one.

Oasis Acres is a non-profit agency providing an equine assisted therapy program for middle and high school at-risk youth. Counselors trained in equine therapy and in grief therapy use horses’ sensitivity to non-verbal communication to facilitate healing through the grief process with a focus on seven core skills: respect, responsibility, relationship skills, boundaries, empathy, choices and consequences.

This program is slated for summer 2014 and is seeking funding.

Pet therapy

Additionally, pet therapy, using trained comfort dogs, will be expanded from their current use in Hope’s Camp HavenHeart and Family Night support groups to also include their use in hospice patient companionship.

Sherry Lindsey and her five certified therapy Shelties have been volunteering in the Children’s Grief Program since 2005. The addition of Oscar and Curby will enable Hope’s patients who would like a visit from a four-legged friend to also have that joy and comfort.

Bereavement Companionship

Bereavement Companionship is a new program in the pilot phase. It is a free service for those individuals who no longer need formal counseling after the death of a loved one but want to remain connected with Hope Hospice and want to continue to have visitors from Hope.

The program is staffed by trained volunteers and overseen by Jane Marie Young, director of psycho-social services.

Clients most likely to need this program are those who have experienced the death of a spouse and find themselves in a changing financial and social environment. The loss they’ve experienced often results in needing to learn to cook for one, to deal with finances alone and other major life adjustments.

Companionship support is ideal for these individuals who would like a listening ear but do not need professional counseling.

For information about hospice care, accessing these and other programs or the Hope Hospice Foundation Pearl Anniversary Gala, contact Hope Hospice at (830) 625-7500 or (800) 499-7501.

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