Greensboro Hospice building endowment

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro has launched the public phase of a campaign to raise $10 million for endowment.

In a quiet phase that began in January, the campaign raised $2.5 million through pledges, current gifts and future bequests, a total roughly equal to existing endowment funds donated in the 25 years since the agency’s founding.

After a big push through next spring, increasing the endowment to $10 million should take three to five years, says Pam Barrett, executive director.

Once the endowment reaches that level, she says, Hospice would spend up to 4.5 percent of assets each year, depending on the endowment’s investment performance.

Spending at that level would equal roughly half the $1 million in private funds the agency now raises in the community each year to help pay for services Medicare and insurance do not cover, says Barrett.

Hospice provides end-of-life care for terminally ill patients and their families to address their needs for psycho-social, emotional and spiritual support, and for planning their care and managing their symptoms and pain.

It also provides palliative care, which treats the underlying symptoms of disease, not the disease itself.

“We’re not trying to cure the disease,” Barrett says. “The people we serve may have been through a series of treatments, and are not going to ultimately survive. We’re trying to focus on the quality of life.”

Hospice, with an annual budget of nearly $15 million, last year served more than 1,000 patients.

In October, it served more than 270 patients a day, up 28 percent from October 2004.

Hospice also provides grief counseling to more than 800 children and adults each year.

Its staff has grown to more than 100 full-time employees from three employees who worked in the basement of the Guilford County Public Health Department when the agency was formed.

Hospice also works with a pool of more than 200 volunteers.

Revenue from Medicare and private insurers covers most of the annual budget but has not kept pace with rising demand for services, Barrett says.

And that third-party coverage does not reimburse services such as bereavement care for adults and children, pediatric palliative care and spiritual counseling, Barrett says.

Funds from the endowment drive will generate income to support medical and bereavement care, children’s programs, outreach to the community, and staff education.

The campaign also is paying for two new beds at Beacon Place, the agency’s residential facility, bringing the number of beds to 14.

Barrett says demand has grown through Hospice’s efforts to increase awareness of its services and make them accessible to more people.

While the aging population creates continuing need for Hospice, she says, it serves many children, young adults and middle-aged people.

And it serves not only cancer patients but also those with illnesses such as end-stage renal disease, cardiac disease, lung disease and end-stage Alzheimers.

Only half its patients have cancer, compared to over 90 percent 20 years ago, Barrett says.

“We have become much more open and diverse in the types of patients we’re seeing.

Chairing the campaign is Carole Bruce, an attorney with Smith Moore, and the honorary chair is Clarence Jones, who with her late husband, Bill Jones, led a Hospice drive in 2000 that raised $2 million to build a two-story facility to house the agency’s program for seriously-ill or grieving children.

The top corporate supporter of the endowment campaign is Moses Cone Health System.

Paul Russ, director of resource development, says the goal of the endowment campaign is to help Hospice “maintain and ensure our flexibility to meet the future unknown needs of the community.”

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