When Stein Hospice opened its doors in 1981, hospice care was just starting to take root in the United States. Hospice was a new word and a new way of caring for those who were sick and dying. Now 30 years later, Stein Hospice is burgeoning. So is the national hospice movement, which is being recognized during November, National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
“Coping with a life-limiting illness is not easy. It’s about the most challenging thing a person will ever do,” said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “We want to make sure people know that help is available and that’s why National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is still so important after more than 35 years of observance.”
Every year more than 1.5 million Americans living with a life-limiting illness and their families receive help from hospice and palliative care providers. In addition, more than 468,000 trained volunteers contribute 22 million hours of hospice service annually.
Closer to home, Stein Hospice last year:
• Admitted 1,032 men, women and children as patients
• Received an average of 372 hours each week from volunteers
• Held Camp Good Grief in three cities (Huron, Port Clinton and Tiffin), reaching 71 children
• Provided more than 5,000 face-to-face grief counseling sessions
In 1981, Stein Hospice began out of a tiny room in the basement of the former Providence Hospital in Sandusky.
That first year, Stein cared for just 11 patients. Roland Homan was one of them. When the Monroeville farmer was told that his cancer was terminal and he had only six months to live, his family sought out Rosalie Perry, the nurse who had started the agency.
Rosalie assured Roland’s wife Irma that she would make her husband as comfortable as possible and follow Roland’s wish to die in the hospital. Today, Irma is one of Stein’s biggest cheerleaders and Roland’s daughter, Nancy Stallcamp is a long-time patient care volunteer for Stein.
Rosalie said most of the patients in those early years had cancer. “It was never true that hospice was just for cancer patients, but people seemed to believe it,” she said. One of the biggest challenges was convincing a physician that talking to a patient about dying was a compassionate rather than an unkind gesture.
The original name of the agency was Providence Hospital Hospice Association. The hospital funded the hospice through December 1983, when the agency became Stein Hospice to honor the generosity of Rose and Sam Stein.
In those first years Stein often had more volunteers in the office than paid staff. Betty Ott started out volunteering one day a week, and before long was in the office so much they offered her a job. Now, 26 years later, Betty still works at Stein, as administrative assistant to Jan Bucholz, president and chief executive officer.
During Betty’s tenure, the longest of any Stein employee, she worked out of three of the four company offices. After leaving Providence, Stein moved to a little white house on Columbus Avenue, then an office on Madison Street, and finally, in 1992, into its current home at 1200 Sycamore Line.
Today Stein has grown so big that one office cannot house all of its staff and services. In all, the not-for-profit agency has seven locations, including a 17-bed Care Center and offices in the Ohio Veterans Homes in Sandusky and Georgetown. Stein’s professional team of physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, health aides and chaplains serve patients and families in seven counties (Erie, Huron, Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca, Lorain, Brown) and the surrounding area.
Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans, but at Stein Hospice no one is turned away because of inability to pay.
“As we continue to grow and plan for the next 30 years, the needs of our patients and families will remain at the forefront. Excellent, comprehensive services are and will continue to be Stein’s trademark,” Jan Bucholz said.