High Peaks Hospice (HPH) announces and celebrates the retirement of Carol Thomas, LPN with a Q & A. HPH thanks Carol for her valuable contributions to the organization and the wonderful care she provided to each of the many families she served.

What roles have you held at High Peaks Hospice?

I started at HPH October 28, 2008 providing patient care in the home. After 10 years I became the Referral / Intake Coordinator until last spring , I then went back to providing patient care in the homes.

Before I started as the Referral / Intake Coordinator, the referral system was unorganized. Doctors would call one of the three office coordinators to make a referral. We streamlined and organized the process. I saw outreach grow since 2018 when I took on the new role but with covid I decided to go back into the field since there was not a need to be in the referral process, which is now handled by Vicki, Phyllis and Chas.

Why did you choose hospice? 

I wanted to be a part of hospice because I saw what it offered families. My father was a patient on hospice care for just a very short time but it offered him the dignity of dying at home.

I always felt education of the doctors and the public of what hospice is was important. Education is the key to growing hospice to what it can be and what it should be. I saw this firsthand. Dad was only on hospice care for a few days because the doctor offered one more treatment even though he was so weak he didn’t know where he was, or who his family was. I had to force the doctor to make a referral to hospice after it was determined that he was no longer capable of making his own decisions.

What is a misperception about hospice?

Most people think hospice is just for cancer patients or just for the last few days or weeks of life, and it’s just not true. It’s all about education, education, education.

What are your best memories?

Being allowed in the patients homes to care for their families at the most difficult time in their life. Being there to assist them, not tell them what to do. I always told patients and families that they were in charge.

What patient experience touched you the most?

They all did, in some way. It’s always an honor and a privilege to be in patients’ homes and be able to care for them.

Reflecting back from when you started, what changed, and what’s something you would like to share?

When I started, High Peaks Hospice was much smaller. I have worked for 4-5 Executive Directors and many Patient Care Coordinators. Nurses came and went so fast…realizing it’s not what they wanted or because they had conflict with a leader. In the last four years since Nick George came on board as the Executive Director and Marie Marvull0 moved up into the Director of Hospice Services position, I have seen it become much more organized and more patient centered. The social worker team is doing much more, the organization is valuing its nurses more. Teamwork is paramount. We could not do what we do without every single team member and without us all having the same goal that we do of helping patients have the best life possible, every day.

What do you look forward to doing when you retire?

Getting up early everyday enjoying my grandchildren and enjoying summer camp up in Newcomb. And quilting. I have nine quilt tops waiting to be quilted and I look forward to learning about my machine I bought brand new a couple of years ago.

From the team at High Peaks Hospice, Thank you Carol!

High Peaks Hospice is a not-for-profit organization serving Warren, Essex, Washington, Franklin, St. Lawrence, and Hamilton Counties. The hospice benefit covers specialized nursing care, medications, equipment and supplies related to one’s terminal illness at no cost. High Peaks Hospice offers families a full range of support to care for their loved one – physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Under hospice care, the terminally-ill are able to fill their time with dignity, in comfort, and with peace – wherever they call home. For more information, call 518-891-0606 or visit www.highpeakshospice.org.