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Hospice fund tops $400,000

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GREENFIELD — When organizers set out to raise money for Hancock Regional Hospital’s hospice program last fall, they gave themselves 100 days to raise $200,000, but they miscalculated just a bit.

“Donate for Dignity,” which began Sept. 23 as the latest effort toward the foundation’s overall goal to raise $3.1 million for the hospice, garnered more than $440,000 for the Rex A. Pasko Hospice Endowment.

Foundation executive director Nancy Davis said the campaign’s success was nothing short of amazing to organizers and a testament to both the community and the services provided by the hospice.

“We expected the hospital board and the foundation board, but what was really great was the way the community embraced this,” Davis said.

Jump-started by a $100,000 matching grant from Greenfield’s Tyner Pond Farm, the campaign then took off with significant contributions from more than 350 local businesses, organizations and individuals, Davis said.

Individual gifts totaled just under $57,000 over the 100 days.

Davis said donations came in all forms, from sizable foundation gifts to dollar bills dropped into a collection box at the hospital cafeteria.

“It’s about the big gifts just as much as it is about the $5 at the cash register upstairs,” she said.

Soon after the drive started in September, hospital cafe workers began asking for $1 donations as customers went through their lines. Early on, the effort netted $199 in a single day.

The endowment is necessary to help the hospice unit cover its expenses, hospital officials say.

Since its opening in 2011, the seven-bed unit has served more than 300 families with its specially trained end-of-life-care staff and physicians, social workers, chaplains and extended-stay facilities.

However, the vast majority of its operational costs go unreimbursed.

Medicare, the primary provider for most hospice patients, covers only about 30 percent of hospice care costs, said hospice coordinator Jeannie Crowe.

So from the outset, the unit provides care it knows will, for the most part, not be covered.

Once fully funded, the $3.1 million hospice endowment will help defray the unit’s operational deficit, Crowe said.

In addition to financial support, Crowe said the community has also endorsed the unit in kind.

“They do more than just donate,” Crowe said. “They volunteer, they send letters about how grateful they are for the service, they bake cookies, they bring ice cream bars and cakes. It’s amazing.”

Though the Donate for Dignity drive is completed, the foundation will continue to accept contributions to the hospice endowment, Davis said.

For more information or to make a donation, contact the foundation at (317) 468-9105 or go online to www.hancockregionalhospital.org/foundation.

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