Thursday, May 29, 2014

Through the End of Life – Celebrating 20 Years of Gilchrist Hospice Care

Last week I had the privilege to attend the 20th anniversary celebration events for Gilchrist Hospice Care. We recognized all that Gilchrist Hospice has done over the years to help see so many individuals and families through the end of life. The care providers at Gilchrist not only provide world class medical care to patients in their final days, but also provide the emotional and spiritual support needed. One of the things that continues to resonate with me as we celebrate the many milestones reached over the past 20 years is how every staff member and volunteer at Gilchrist Hospice has an unwavering dedication to gracefully guiding patients and families in their final journey together.

I was equally impressed and touched by what the keynote speaker had to say about hospice care and a person’s end of life journey. Dr. Ira Byock is one of the nation’s foremost icons in hospice care and he highlighted the fact that death is a personal issue first and a medical issue second. His statement, “We need to take back dying as fundamentally personal and demand much better care for people THROUGH the end of life," was a poignant one. He stressed the notion of THROUGH the end of life rather than AT the end of life and that we should view a person’s final days as the completion of life.

 Dr. Byock, who authored a book about the end of life entitled, The Best Care Possible, stresses the term “dying well” as opposed to “ a good death.” It was fascinating to hear him speak about what it actually means to “die well,” and how important it is to have courageous conversations with individuals and family members about what they truly want when it comes to their own deaths.  For him personally, he talked about a Father’s Day gift that would mean a great deal to him from his two daughters who are in their late 20’s and early 30’s – he told them that the best gift they could give him was to complete their own Advanced Directives.  Each individual certainly views death differently, and many people take personal actions in their last days. For 20 years, Gilchrist Hospice Care has been helping individuals to reflect and take their final actions so that they can “die well.”

Our System and our community are very lucky to have Gilchrist to help individuals complete the circle of life with dignity and on their terms. I congratulate the staff, board members and volunteers of Gilchrist as we reflect on some of the major milestones over the past two decades:

  • 1991 - Philanthropist Jeanne “Jinny” Gilchrist Vance makes a multi-million dollar pledge for the construction of a dedicated hospice facility, paving the way for Hospice of Baltimore
  • 1994 – Hospice of Baltimore begins serving Baltimore City and Baltimore and Carroll Counties
  • 1995 – Ground is broken on the site of the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care
  • 1996 – Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care opens in its Towson location
  • 1997 – Hospice of Baltimore merges with Hospice Services of Howard County to serve even more people throughout the state
  • 2004 – In 10 years, 10,600 individuals have received hospice care
  • 2008 – Hospice of Baltimore is renamed Gilchrist Hospice Care to create a unified name and to honor Jinny’s legacy
  • 2009 – Gilchrist Hospice Care partners with Nkoaranga Lutheran Hospice’s hospice and palliative care program in Tanzania
  • 2010 - Gilchrist’s pediatric and perinatal hospice program is created and called Gilchrist Kids
  • 2011 – Gilchrist Center Howard County opens
  • 2011 – Gilchrist Hospice Care receives the prestigious Circle of Life award for innovation in end of life care
  • 2012 – Three new programs launch – Music Therapy, End of Life Doula and We Honor Veterans
  • 2014 – In the past 20 years, Gilchrist Hospice Care has cared for 40,000 patients and close to 100,000 loved ones


  1. I have heard so many positive comments in the community about our hospice program. I'm so proud to be affiliated with these wonderful professionals.

  2. I was very moved and touched to see the history of Gilchrist in pictures Megan Dempsey sent this to me earlier this week and I shared it with my friends and coworkers that were not able to be at the dinner. So proud to be part of this awesome organization Kathy Miller RN CHPN After hours triage

  3. Thanks, Kathy. I am proud to be a part of this organization too.


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