Profile in Care

Taking a closer look at Covenant Hospice. Covenant Hospice

Covenant Hospice has a goal: to provide complete care to people who are facing end-of-life issues. Dale Knee, president/CEO of Covenant Hospice, said he believes more people are learning about what services hospices can provide for people at the end of their lives.

{mosimage}“I think one of the big benefits of hospice (is) not only taking care of the patient,” he said, “but also the bereavement programs for the family members after the patients die.”

Covenant Hospice is based in Pensacola and has served Northwest Florida and southern Alabama since 1984. The move to the Tallahassee area was prompted by a semi-annual report completed in 2001 by the state of Florida that showed a need for additional hospice programs. The Tallahassee office has been open for three years, serving eight counties – Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla – in the Big Bend.

Covenant also has a community support center in Perry and plans to open a larger, fully licensed office there at the end of this year or early next year. Looking at the next two to four years, the organization plans to add four or five offices in rural areas. With these plans, Knee wants to become more actively involved in the rural areas, providing support where the need is.

Another goal is reaching out to black families, educating them through community outreach programs.

“I think the African-American population is still not being served as well as it needs to be,” Knee said. “We have minority advisory groups that give us advice, and we’re doing a lot of community outreach into the various African-American communities.”

Hospice services work with an interdisciplinary team consisting of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, bereavement specialists, home health aide workers and therapists to provide care for those who need it. They provide care for patients with cancer and non-cancer terminal diagnoses, serving both adults and children who are in private residences, nursing homes or assisted living environments.

“It’s not about giving up, it’s about quality of life,” Knee said, “(and) hospice offers a great service to them.”

Two physicians based in the Tallahassee office make house calls and take care of patients as an adjunct to the patients’ primary physicians.

The hospice receives its funding from the United Way, Combined Federal Campaigns, numerous foundations, and through donations, memorials, grants, planned giving programs, fund raising and special events. Covenant’s emphasis is on providing care based on need – not the ability to pay.

“We advertise in the sense of educating the physician community and to coordinate with hospitals and nursing homes,” Knee said,  “and then we have a large ongoing program to help people educate the community about advanced directives. It’s through that kind of community outreach that people become more familiar with hospice services.” – Erica Bailey

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