“You matter… to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die”
-Dr. Cicely Saunders, Founder of the first modern Hospice, St. Christopher’s Hospice, London, England
The Birth of Hospice of Ukiah
In 1980 a community meeting was held, chaired by Bob Alto of Mendocino County Community College, to discuss Hospice Care in our community. Dr. William Lamers, Medical Director of the Hospice of Marin, came and gave a slide presentation, encouragement and advice. Our community Home Health Agency started the first Hospice in Lake and Mendocino Counties. We became Hospice of Ukiah, delivering coordinated team support to terminally ill patients and their families.
About 30 years ago, we were given the choice to become a “certified Medicare Hospice”. We chose not to accept Medicare funding because the rules would limit the population we could serve. We chose to continue to care for terminally ill patients who choose to fight their disease with chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis etc. We could not deny support to these patients and their families.
And so we became a “Volunteer” Hospice, supported solely by donations, bequests and the income from our Thrift & Gift Store. (“Volunteer” is the legal designation– our team of nurses and caregivers are all professionals).
Later we added “Palliative Care,” giving care and support to patients and their families who were not terminally ill. Their problems include old age debility, dementia, emphysema, renal disease, cardio pulmonary disease, etc.
40 years after our birth, we are supporting and caring for more community members than ever, helping patients to live as well as possible and to die in comfort and dignity, surrounded by family and friends.