Carolina Caring, 40 Years Strong!

Cindy Hull
Staff Writer

Julie Packer, director of professional relations at Carolina Caring opened the organization’s celebration by saying: “Carolina Caring is blessed that a handful of visionaries gathered together 40 years ago to discuss, develop and begin a better way of caring for our most vulnerable citizens who were dying”. Packer added, “Carolina Caring focuses on comfort and home-like care as the person’s life is ending”.

Packer said that this type of care allowed the community to receive new programming and a new line of services in 1979 from the organization then called Hospice of Catawba Valley. It was the third hospice in the state of North Carolina and the first in the Catawba Valley Unifour area.

Carolina Caring is grateful for the many supporters that have helped over the years. From local, state, federal government officials, private insurers, benefactors, and charitable donations. “The combined funds have allowed us to open our doors much wider, to provide care to thousands of patients and families over the years.
“(Thank you) to Johnny Buff, the original owner of the first 6 acres of our 33 acres peaceful pastoral campus that we sit here on today. It was with this gift (that) we were allowed to center our offices here and build out first Hospice house” said Packer.

Carolina Caring has over 250 administrative office and clinical hands-on staff and an extensive network of volunteers who come to work every day to make family’s lives comfortable and memorable. Dave Cook, President, and CEO of Carolina Caring said, “For 40 years, we’ve been in this community and we have been providing care that’s different than the health care system. We believe what Hospice initially has offered, has more to offer. We really have taken this 40th year and we have looked to say: How do we prepare for the next 40 years?” Cook added: “We’ve learned how to provide great care in a home setting and do something really magical”.

Cook says that they are building and still have the original hospice program and that is core to everything they do today while serving 360 patients in hospice care and 760 in palliative care. Palliative care is the program that helps those that are not quite ready for hospice care.

“We are excited to have been honored this year as number 18 in Modern Healthcare National Best Places to Work and listed as the first Hospice program, as well as the top program in North Carolina as far as best places to work. We are grateful that the compassion and care that our staff provides reflect in the culture at Carolina Caring. We could not be more pleased with the recognition we received from Modern Healthcare. This is such an honor” said Cook.

Cook is also proud of the Cardinal Kids program. Carolina Caring launched the Cardinal Kids, a community-based palliative care program dedicated to helping children and their families face the challenges of serious illness. The program began seeing patients Sept. 1st in Burke, Alexander, Catawba, and Lincoln counties but, as demand for care increases, it will eventually be expanded to all of the nonprofit organization’s 12-county service area in North Carolina.

Cardinal Kids provides palliative and hospice care to children from birth to young adulthood, as well as social and spiritual support for their families. Clinicians work closely with the child, his or her physicians, and the child’s family to manage and treat the physical symptoms caused by serious illness. Care is most often delivered directly in the child’s home but can also be provided in the hospital setting. The program’s top priority is to ensure an appropriate level of comfort based on a plan of expert, individualized health care.

“We were pleased to just learn that we were awarded $700,000 from Duke Endowment to fund the pediatric program”, said Cook. Duke Endowment saw a need for the program when they did a site visit and saw the work that was being done. They put the money behind what Carolina Caring believes in.
Cook closed by saying: “We really do feel there is more that we can do in the next 40 years, but we plan to do a lot in the next five years”.