In 2016, it was Hurricane Matthew. In 2017, as we drove to Asheville to attend The Carolina’s Center 41stAnnual Hospice and Palliative Care Conference, most of Florida and Georgia were being pummeled by Hurricane Irma’s tropical force winds and torrential rain. In 2018, as we drove to Charlotte to attend The Carolina Centers 42ndAnnual Hospice and Palliative Care Conference, the safety of our hospice patients, their families and our associates was top priority. We were closely and continuously monitoring a category 4 Hurricane, Florence, and many had begun implementing storm preparedness preparations that week-end. As Hurricane Florence threatened the coast of the Carolina’s we reached out to patients, caregivers and partners to confirm safe sheltering plans and adequate provisions.
At the Hilton Charlotte University Place we greeted old friends, enjoyed a delicious lunch, applauded and acknowledged those honored at the awards ceremony and listened intently to Dr. Janet Bull present the Dr. John Lusk Lecture Opening Keynote – “Looking in the Future of Serious Illness Care”. We had divided up to attend one of the five discipline-specific tracks the education committee arranged during concurrent educational sessions, when TCC representatives announced the office of the Governor of SC had issued an Executive Order calling for the mandatory medical evacuation of coastal healthcare facilities.
Following the sessions many stepped out to confirm coordination of care and services including transportation, lodging, food, medicines, medical supplies, water and medical records. Others immediately returned to their families and communities to ensure every precaution was taken to keep patients, caregivers and associates safe. The Carolinas Centers Board of Directors and the TCC staff offered warm words of care and comfort and in their hugs we found support and solace. As I reflect on the conference I am reminded that although we may have different provider numbers, we are of one accord as we seek to care for those with serious illnesses and those at the end of their life.
As predicted Hurricane Florence lingered near the Carolina coast causing torrential rain and tropical force winds. While we, thankfully, were spared the destructive wind and waves of a category 4 hurricane, friends and families in parts of South Carolina and North Carolina are unfortunately still battling her fierce force and devastating flooding. We hold them in our thoughts, and in our hearts and in our prayers.
Theresa Younis is the Chief Executive Officer of Agapé Hospice, a premiere healthcare organization in South Carolina and one the largest providers of hospice services in the nation. Since joining Agapé in 2001 she helped pioneer the exponential expansion, integration of services, and faith-based approach that at its peak empowered its 2,500 members to provide a vast array of services to more than 50,000 residents and patients in Agapé Senior’s post-acute care facilities, assisted livings, hospices, and through its Primary Care Practice.