Championing the Cause - Hospice of the North Coast

Championing the Cause

Upon returning in late January 2017 from Malawi to Carlsbad, jet-lagged but energized by their trip, HNC Executive Director Sharon Lutz, Director of Philanthropy Shelly Dew, Care Advocate Christina Montanez, and Volunteer Coordinator Cyndie Acosta felt excited to share the stories of their time with their Malawi partners.

Sharon, a seasoned clinical nurse, reported, “During our journey, we observed that by making ‘small’ changes significant benefits could be realized. By modifying the timing of pain medications administered to a young mother suffering from terminal breast cancer, our partners enabled her to get a better night’s sleep and spend more time awake and alert with her children during the day. Ultimately, she was able to pass peacefully; well-palliated; with her loving family at her bedside.”

Raising Awareness, Raising Funds

Christina Montanez, HNC’s Chaplain, took note that their Chaplain didn’t have the skills and education necessary to address the deep-rooted psych-social issues around undeclared HIV within a marriage, yet there was no qualified member of the palliative care team to address these issues. The HNC team witnessed two gentlemen with HIV who had been banished from their families and were now living back in the villages of their mothers, unable to see their children again.

This common unresolved problem caused the HNC team to raise the question: Why isn’t anybody talking about what seems to be a central problem within the marriage? The HNC team quickly saw the clear necessity for a social worker position in order to bring resolution and reconciliation to a family prior to the husband’s death.

Back at home, the HNC team confirmed with Nkhoma’s palliative care team that funding a social worker should be a priority. HNC began working to raise awareness to fund a social worker for Nkhoma Hospital and fulfill other goals.

To do so, Shelly Dew embarked on presentations: “We created a Champions opportunity so people can donate directly to our Global Partnership. I visit service organizations and other groups, explaining to community members that HNC’s mission expands outside of our immediate service area and showcasing the many avenues of involvement. Participation can be as simple as attending a GP committee meeting or as long-term impactful as making a major donation.”

A Life-Changing Experience for All

Reflecting on their first, warm, face-to-face encounter, both teams realized how transformational the GP is for both sides of the partnership. The HNC team said, “Getting to know the people of Malawi is a privilege; a lesson in both joy and appreciation.”

Now it would soon be time for the tables to turn. HNC eagerly began preparing to welcome their visitors from Malawi.