Let’s call her Ann. Ann is a 64-year-old grandmother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer 6 months ago. Not wanting her final days to be spent sick, in a hospital, without her family, Ann and her loved ones decided to utilize the services of Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. Ann will be using these services for 51 days. During this time, Ann will receive 31 nursing visits and 37 home health aide visits. Throughout these visits, Ann will make it a point to learn each of her caregivers’ names and their favorite books. She’ll have her favorite nurse, of course. But she’ll be sure to make each nurse or aide feel like they’re her favorite. Her smile is contagious and, even though she is in pain, that smile never wanes.
Ann’s cost of direct care – including staff, medication, supplies, and medical equipment – will be about $8,809. And she is just one of the countless patients that has benefitted from the services of Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions because of people like you.
In 2022, Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions served 438 patients.
CWHT serves, on average, 66.2 patients a day.
The average duration of hospice care for patients was 50.7 days.
92 veterans were served; 45 of whom received a special ceremony.
88 volunteers contributed 2,560 hours of their time.
$342,000 in charity care was provided.
It costs approximately $700 a day to offer care to just one patient.
And all of those numbers prove just how pivotal community donations are to Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions.
As a nonprofit organization, CWHT relies on community support in order to sustain the vast and varied services that it offers to the sick, the elderly, and the dying.
“We have one of the most generous communities in the Rocky Mountain West, if not the entire United States,” said Kilty Brown, the Executive Director of Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. “Our donors are incredibly supportive. And it’s not just these big donors who sweep in with a large amount. It’s the smaller individuals, or families, who maybe send in a $25 check every month just because they’re grateful for the care their mom received.”
The big donations are important; vital even. But so are the smaller donations from the individuals who give what they can. These donations, all of them, large and small, allow CWHT to operate in the way they believe is best for the community in which they serve. They don’t have to answer to a big corporate conglomerate who is more concerned with ‘the bottom line’ than they are with the actual patients.
“I think that if we were a for-profit hospice, you’d see a totally different type of care,” Brown stated. “I think one of the reasons that we’re nonprofit is because that way, we can offer care that nobody else does, with our hospice home in particular. Our hospice homes are incredibly important to the community. They’re a safety net for the elderly and for the dying. And it’s important for our community to have them.”
Why are they so important? It’s because, for some of these people, Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions is the only place they have.
“You have patients like elderly men or women who never got married or who never had children and have nobody to care for them,” Brown said. “Or sometimes we have homeless patients who just don’t have any family around. Sometimes we have ranchers who live out in the middle of the country and, like in winters that we’ve had this past year, you just can’t get to them easily. So, I think we really need these homes, but we just couldn’t do that without donors.”
Medicare and other forms of insurance help offset some of the costs associated with hospice and transition care for Wyoming patients, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough.
“Our hospice home for the population in Wyoming is something that we just can’t sustain off of Medicare and insurance alone,” Brown said. “These are money-losing endeavors for us. And that’s why donations are so important. Your money is going towards paying for care in our hospice homes and providing patient care for the dying. It costs us about $700 per day to care for one person. And we only receive payment of $580 per day. So, every day, we’re losing $120 per patient. So, when you’re donating, you’re paying for nurses, you’re paying for aides, you’re paying for the upkeep of the homes. You’re paying for care.”
You’re paying for care. Every dollar that is given goes towards the care of the sick, the elderly, and the dying. Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions would simply not exist without donations from community members, and they mean it when they say every dollar counts. Whether it’s $5 or $500.
“Without your support, we couldn’t be here, period,” Brown said. “We wouldn’t have our doors open. And I think care for the elderly would look very different in Wyoming. I’ve seen homes where there hasn’t been hospice care, and it’s a crisis. It’s not having access to medicine. It’s not having access to comfort. It’s not having access to basic pain control. And I think that, by donating, you become that stop-gap towards allowing our community to have such important access to dignity and comfort at the end of life.”
Dignity. That is the word that stayed in the back of Ann’s mind throughout her time with Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. Dignity for Ann, and dignity for her family. Throughout their time together, neither Ann, nor her family, had to worry about the cost of her care; they just had to be there to hold her hand, to see her smile. Ann’s community took care of her. They allowed her to die with dignity.
Ann is just one of the hundreds of patients that Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions provides care for every year. Her story is a familiar one and it demonstrates just how important the power of giving really is.
To make donations and find out more about the types of services that your donations pay for, visit centralwyominghospice.org/donate.