Hospice dedicates new park

May. 02, 2013 @ 05:15 PM

Hospice of Union County dedicated a new park on its campus Thursday.

Donations by the Griffin family made it possible for Hospice to add an outdoor space for patients and their families to visit. While Hospice serves people at the end of their lives, those last days and weeks should be peaceful and memorable, Community Advisory Board President Ray Black said.

“Our volunteer family has a mission statement - to get the most out of living, to get the most out of the last phase of living,” he said.

And as Hospice staff has touched many local families, so too has the Griffin family. Their contributions have made other community projects possible.

Kathleen Neill is the assistant director and long-time Hospice nurse.

“When most people hear the word Hospice, they think about death,” she said. “But Hospice is all about life and living.”

Neill told the story of an elderly woman who spent the last six weeks of her life at the facility. She had a young family that visited often after work or to share breakfast. More than once, the nurses found the woman asleep with her 9-month-old grandson beside her.

“When you look around here, there’s nothing here about death,” she said, opening her arms to encompass the park, it’s benches, flowers and fountain. “It’s all about life.”

The park will serve the family and patients who call the facility home, even for a short time, Hospice Executive Director Jamie Cicali said.

“We dedicate this to them and to the extremely beautiful people who go out and do this every single day,” Cicali said.

Bruce Griffin said he was inspired to collaborate with Hospice to create the park after his father spend his last days there. Later, his mother was cared for by Hospice staff in-home until she died.

“Several years ago, we started talking about helping Hospice on a project like a park,” Griffin said. “We thought a park would be a nice place for people and their families to sit and enjoy the outdoors for a few minutes. I think it will be good for the people here.”