Compass Regional Hospice and the Caroline Hospice Foundation have formalized a path forward to deliver hospice care and grief support services to residents in Caroline County. The organizations were joined in a recent meeting to discuss the future of hospice care in Caroline County by Del. Jeff Ghrist, R-36-Caroline; Caroline County Commissioners Larry Porter, Wilbur Levengood and Dan Franklin; and other community stakeholders.
Compass Regional Hospice is the sole hospice provider for Caroline County and, in addition to providing in-home medical services to those who seek hospice care, Compass had been providing the hospice medical services in the Caroline Hospice Home, 613 S. 5th Ave., Denton, since 2015. Caroline Hospice Foundation has been the sole fundraising entity for hospice care in Caroline County and maintained daily operations at the Caroline Hospice Home.
Caroline Hospice Foundation terminated the memorandum of understanding between it and Compass Regional Hospice, effective July 15, citing a lack of funding. Following the termination, which closed the Caroline Hospice Home for residential hospice care, the two organizations have worked diligently to ensure the residents of Caroline County are aware they will continue to receive the quality care they have come to know and expect from Compass Regional Hospice through in-home care.
“Compass Regional Hospice is committed to providing quality end-of-life care and grief support in Caroline County. We are not going anywhere. We will continue to offer in-home care to the residents of Caroline County,” said Compass Regional Hospice Executive Director Heather Guerieri. “When the time is right, Compass Regional Hospice hopes to open a new facility to provide a medical alternative for patients who want the security of medical care around the clock in a home-like setting.”
“Caroline County residents will continue to receive in-home hospice care and grief support through Compass Regional Hospice,” said Laura Harris, president, Caroline Hospice Foundation Board of Directors. “Even though the Caroline Hospice Home is closed, Caroline County residents will not suffer a loss of services. Compass Regional Hospice will be looking for a larger facility to accommodate a growing need for expanded residential hospice care in our county.”
Harris said it is the intention of the foundation’s board of directors to support Compass Regional Hospice as it moves forward in continuing to provide hospice care and grief support in Caroline County. Effective immediately, Compass Regional Hospice will be ramping up its fundraising presence in Caroline County, as Caroline Hospice Foundation has elected to relinquish those efforts through the termination of the MOU.
“Caroline Hospice Foundation Inc. is ceding all fundraising within Caroline County to Compass Regional Hospice, who will continue to provide hospice care for county residents within their homes, with the hope of Compass Regional Hospice establishing an in-patient hospice home within the county,” Harris said. “It is the intention of the board of directors to liquidate the assets of the foundation and dissolve the organization.”
At this time, Harris said the future of the Caroline Hospice Home is unknown. She said the foundation will be working on winding down the operations of the organization and exploring various options regarding the home. One option, Harris said, may be to sell the home and distribute the funds to various local charities and another option may be to donate the home to a Caroline County nonprofit in need of operating space.
When discussing the future of the Caroline Hospice Home, the two organizations agreed that continuing to use it as a residential hospice center may not meet the growing needs of the community.
“We have a plan for the future in Caroline County. We fully intend on opening another facility, but we need a facility with more bed capacity. Three beds are not enough and the Caroline Hospice Foundation’s home cannot sustain the growth we envision for Caroline County. We want to offer this community more services, not limit them,” Guerieri said.
Compass Regional Hospice, as the only licensed hospice provider in Caroline County, entered into an agreement in 2015 to provide hospice care to the families served at the Caroline Hospice Home, which effectively helped to reopen the home following its closing in 2012.
“Since we gained the certificate of need, we have immersed ourselves in Caroline County and have worked alongside and supported the Caroline Hospice Foundation in its efforts,” Guerieri said.
Compass Regional Hospice serves the majority of its patients in Caroline County in their homes or in Caroline County nursing homes or assisted living facilities. However, Guerieri said Caroline County residents who are in need of residential hospice care have options at other Compass Regional Hospice hospice center locations – in Centreville and Chestertown.
“Going forward, any Caroline County resident who requires placement in one of Compass Regional Hospice’s facilities will have the option to receive care in our residential hospice centers in Centreville or Chestertown,” Guerieri said. “Beginning this fall, we will be expanding our Centreville Hospice Center from six to 10 beds, enabling us to better serve Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties.”
Currently, Compass Regional Hospice fundraises in Queen Anne’s and Kent counties to cover the cost of providing services to patients in those counties.
“There is a significant cost to Compass Regional Hospice to provide hospice and grief support services to the patients of Caroline County,” she said. “As such, and consistent with nonprofit hospice services throughout Maryland, there needs to be a productive fundraising component to help supplement the cost of services.”
Compass Regional Hospice takes care of infants and children, as well as adults in need of its programs, and patients are never turned away based on an inability to pay for services. Because of this, Guerieri said there is an annual $1.4 million funding gap between what the organization receives in service payments and the actual cost of care provided.
In addition to hospice patient care, Compass Regional Hospice also runs grief support programs for anyone who is dealing with the loss of a loved one. Grief support programs are never reimbursed through insurance. Compass also offers kindergarten through 12th-grade counseling for Caroline County students who have experienced loss and who need help processing that grief.
Guerieri said the Compass Regional Hospice team looks forward to exploring new partnerships and ways of providing hospice care and grief support services in Caroline County. Until then, Guerieri said nothing will change in Caroline County regarding the level of care the community has come to know and expect.
“We will continue to foster relationships in Caroline County that enable us to provide the quality of hospice care the community has come to know and expect from Compass Regional Hospice. You will not be seeing less of us, you will be seeing more of us. We value the relationships we have grown here,” Guerieri said.
Harris said the Caroline Hospice Foundation is grateful to a community who values taking care of those in need. “Thank you to everyone who has supported Caroline Hospice Foundation over our last 35 years. You truly made a difference in the lives of your Caroline County friends and neighbors who were facing one of life’s most difficult moments,” Harris said. “While this change is both sad and necessary, we know you are in good hands with Compass Regional Hospice.”