Hospice Care of the Lowcountry was founded in 1982 by a group of friends gathered around a kitchen table on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. They knew of other friends who were in great pain as they lay dying, who wanted to be at home with loved ones, but were isolated in an unfamiliar place, as was the convention of the time. The group wanted to help.
The hospice movement was still very new in the U.S. and the challenge of bringing it to a small island in the South must have seemed daunting. But the group persevered. Eventually, after meeting with local hospital and health care professionals, the non-profit organization was formed as Hospice Volunteers. It was a small group, with limited finances. Their primary resource was hearts filled with compassion for their neighbors.
One paid, part-time employee was hired two years later, but still most of the work with patients and families was done by volunteers.
Over the years, as the pioneers were able to educate the community and spread the good news about hospice, the organization grew. Resources were added, funds were raised, and a full-time executive director was hired. More importantly, hundreds of patients and their families received the compassionate care provided by dedicated volunteers and, eventually, professional staff.
The agency became licensed by the state in 1993, which led to Medicare certification a few months later. Because the agency was now serving two counties, Beaufort and Jasper, the name became “Hospice Volunteers of the Lowcountry.”
In 1995, the need to broaden the scope of our care resulted in the addition of our palliative home health agency. This dual licensure allows us to care for those who are terminally ill yet still seek curative treatment.
Soon after this certification, to reflect growth and increased professionalism, the word “volunteers” was removed from the name and the agency became “Hospice Care of the Lowcountry.”
Today, we remain one of only three agencies in the state of South Carolina to be dually licensed and certified in both hospice and home health care – and the only such agency in Beaufort and Jasper counties.
Our staff now includes a medical director (board certified in hospice and palliative care), registered nurses (nine are nationally certified in hospice and palliative care), certified nursing assistants (two are nationally certified in hospice and palliative care), social workers, a chaplain, certified bereavement services coordinator, volunteer coordinator, a music therapist, physical, occupational and speech therapists, nutritionist, and a full administrative support team.
Our volunteer board of directors numbers 20 community leaders, including our founder. Our volunteer roster lists 100 individuals who assist with patient and family care, office support, and special projects.
We were then and always will be community-based, non-profit and independent of any for-profit interest.
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