South Florida Hospital News
Sunday September 22, 2019
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December 2008 - Volume 5 - Issue 6

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VITAS Hospice Charitable Fund is a ‘Life-Saver’

It was August, and it was hot. "The patient was bed bound, and the air conditioner in his bedroom broke, so he was using a fan," says Johanna Marquez, a social worker with VITAS Innovative Hospice Care® of Broward County.

"Every time one of us went to that house, we would sweat and sweat, so you can imagine how much worse it was for the patient," notes Johanna. "But the couple couldn’t afford a new air-conditioner or to get the old one fixed."

Johanna appealed to the VITAS Hospice Charitable Fund/Foundation for End-of-Life Care, and the Foundation purchased a new air conditioner for the couple. "Now every time we go to the patient’s house, the A/C is on and the patient is so much more comfortable," she says.

The 10-year-old not-for-profit Foundation was established to improve end-of-life care for patients and families who qualify (see www.vitascharityfund.org for qualifications). VITAS was the Foundation’s founding corporate supporter, but the Foundation does not limit its aid to VITAS patients and families. It also helps patients served by other hospice providers.

The Foundation helps indigent patients and their families by, for example, paying a month’s rent, mortgage or utility bills; by making insurance payments (such as for a car) or by purchasing gift cards for essential purchases at grocery stores or discount department stores. Since 1998, the Fort Lauderdale-based organization has helped approximately 5,500 hospice patients and families nationwide.

The Foundation relies on donations and bequests for funds, "and many of the donations come from our patients’ families," says Johanna. "So when I apply to the Foundation for aid, I know it’s coming from people who had a good experience with VITAS."

The Foundation has made good experiences possible for many South Florida patients and families—like the 102-year-old VITAS patient in Palm Beach County who was losing her hearing.

"She screamed at everyone," notes Social Worker Merri Schiff. "She was frustrated emotionally, but also because she couldn’t hear herself talk.

"With the Foundation’s help, we got her a hearing aide," continues Merri. "Her daughter has been especially appreciative … it has improved her mother’s quality of life so much."

"The Foundation is a life-saver," confirms Sylvia Carney, a social worker for VITAS in Dade and Monroe counties who has successfully tapped the Foundation for assistance many times. "I always first see what other family or community resources are available. But when those resources have been exhausted, the Foundation often—and quickly—comes through."

Dr. Richard B. Fife is President, Foundation for End-of-Life Care. For more information about the VITAS Hospice Charitable Fund/Foundation for End-of-Life Care or to make a donation to the Foundation, visit www.vitascharityfund.org or call (877) 800-2951.
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