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Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills – Our Team of Hospice Care Professionals

Our team of professionals works together to provide holistic hospice care with consistency and continuity. The Austin Hospice of the Hills team applies their expertise and passion to give exceptional end-of-life care. They are dedicated to understanding your needs, offering support and rendering care on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

Debbie D. Gamble

Co-Founder / Volunteer & Bereavement Facilitator

Debbie’s passion for hospice care stems from personal hospice experiences with both her mother and mother-in-law (See Our Hospice Care Story). Prior to Debbie and her husband Rodney’s decision to create Hospice of the Hills, Debbie’s empathy for people and dedication to compassionate care is evident throughout her career.

As a homebound special education teacher with the Austin Independent School District, Debbie developed student lesson plans to ensure students, who were disabled or terminally ill, were successful in the classroom. While a special education teacher for the Austin State Hospital she worked with children suffering from physical and mental abuse. She further exercised her ability to identify with others and offer the appropriate support through her time at the Mary Lee Foundation.

Here she committed to encouraging emotionally disturbed children to develop a sense of dignity, feeling of self-worth, and skills to socially integrate and contribute to their community.

By working with these people in need throughout her career, she is able to understand others in burdensome situations, offering support on a deeply personal level. Debbie is a member of multiple church, civic, and collegiate organizations.

She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and currently resides in the Lake Travis area with her husband Rodney. They have three grown sons also living in the Austin area.

Rodney Gamble

Co-Founder/
CEO & Director of Business Operations

Rodney’s passion for outstanding hospice care parallels that of his wife Debbie’s (See Our Hospice Care Story). His decision to create Hospice of the Hills with Debbie comes not only from his own hospice care experiences but from an overwhelming desire to help others. Rodney will go out of his way to lend a helping hand. His vision and energy for Hospice of the Hills keeps it operating with impeccable integrity at the highest level of ethical standards. Being native to the Austin-area, Rodney has many deep-rooted relationships in the medical and healthcare community.

Prior to founding Hospice of the Hills, Rodney’s dedication to superior service and care is evident throughout his career. He has listened and helped hundreds of individuals achieve their goals regarding retirement, life, and college planning through his financial and insurance services business.

Before his 20 years as a successful business owner, Rodney acquired his keen business sense and appreciation for teamwork from a handful of management positions.

While Business Manager for Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc., he was responsible for overseeing multimillion-dollar programs involving coordinating with technical managers, contract administrators, project schedulers, and financial analysts. He was a Financial Analyst for Tracor Aerospace, Inc. and worked with the Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation as Assistant Supervisor of the Budget Section.

He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Business Administration. Rodney is recognized for his leadership and commitment to excellence, and is a member of multiple church, civic and collegiate organizations.

He and Debbie reside in the Lake Travis area and have three grown sons also in the Austin area.

Dr. Teresa Lyson, MD, PhD

Medical Director

Teresa Lyson, MD, PhD joined the Hospice of the Hills team in January 2012. She is also a physician at Internal Med Solutions.

Dr. Lyson was a research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Biomedical Research, and at Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas within the cardiology division. In addition to her research, Dr. Lyson has been an assistant professor and instructor on cardiology all over the world.

Originally from Poland, Dr. Lyson moved permanently to the United States in 1990 and has practiced medicine in Iowa and Texas. She is a part of the American Physiological Society, American Medical Association and Polish Society of Internal Medicine, and Cardiology.

Dr. Lyson has authored and published 15 medical papers covering a wide range of topics within her field.

Dr. Gerald Hagin, MD, FACP

Associate Medical Director

Dr. Hagin was first introduced to hospice in 1975 during his internship in Santa Clara, California at Kaiser Hospital, one of the first networks to establish a hospice program. He admits it was extremely difficult to see patients with end-of-life diagnoses. “My goals for these patients became about providing the most support for them and their families. Dying was not a failure but something that could be done with dignity – a purpose I could fully commit to,” he said.

During his first three years of medical school, Dr. Hagin was at the University of Zaragoza in Spain. Since this opportunity he is extremely grateful for, he holds a very special place in his heart for the Spanish and those speaking the language. Dr. Hagin is fluent in Spanish and has dedicated his career to aid the Hispanic population both here in the states and abroad. He has served as a missionary doctor in Honduras and Peru. During his time abroad, his love for the United States continued to grow and influenced his career path greatly.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Hagan has served as medical director for two other hospice agencies, been a clinical professor, instructor, and had his own private practice. His specialty is Medical Oncology, and Hematology where every day patients are given a terminal-illness diagnosis. With over 30 years in medicine and caring for terminally ill patients, Dr. Hagin has an excellent framework to treat and manage pain.

When it comes to hospice care, a team approach is necessary. Dr. Hagain said he realized early on that not one person can provide for all a patient’s needs. Another important concept he learned was when to refer patients to hospice. “I have seen the gamut, those who are referred with just a few days to live and those who are referred with months to live. The importance of truthful discussion of goals with families in a caring way is of utmost importance to assure they recognize why hospice is a good option,” he said. “Often times, there is fear of abandonment, or denial or family dynamics, making hospice enrollment more difficult. We must always recognize the families’ own time frame and be supportive.”

Dr. Hagin has had his own personal experience with hospice when his mother died of pancreatic cancer. He said this event is another reason he believes strongly in early enrollment of hospice. “Throughout her course, my family was blessed with great care and understanding. The staff is an accepted part of a patient’s family and has time to develop a level of comfort, unattainable with just a few-days course.”

Joining the Hospice of the Hills team for Dr. Hagin was about becoming a part of a team that shares his passion and devotion to hospice care and the gift it is to patients and their families.

Dr. Hagin received Honors in Medicine and Psychiatry from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Kaiser Medical Center and Fellowship Hematology/Oncology at the University of Arizona Health and Science Center in Tucson. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and Specialty Boards – Oncology. He served two years of active duty with the National Health Service Corps, a branch of the Public Health service, and 22 years in the United States Navy Reserve, retiring in 2002 as a Navy Captain. 

Dr. Hagin lives in Lakeway with his wife Carol, whom he met through hospice care. She was the administrator at Quality Life Styles Hospice where he was Medical Director. Because technically she was his boss, they had to wait until she moved on to something else before they started dating and got married. “Hospice has truly blessed me, including giving me my loving wife,” he said. Dr. Hagin has two Children, Lea Meredith and Joshua Keola.

  

 

Heidi Kook-Willis, RN, BSN, CHPN

Community Nurse Liaison

Heidi joined the Hospice of the Hills team because of the team’s shared devotion to help each patient and family member have the ideal hospice experience. It was a perfect fit for her desire to use her extensive hospice background in educating the community about their treatment options and the benefits of quality end-of-life care.

After receiving her nursing degree with Honors, Heidi worked in cardiac telemetry and ICU before entering into hospice care as an admissions nurse. She decided to pursue hospice nursing after a personal experience she had with her father, who died of pancreatic cancer at age fifty-two. After witnessing her father refuse hospice care and suffer the devastating side effects of radiation treatment and extreme pain for several months before dying on a ventilator in a hospital ICU, Heidi wanted better for other terminally ill patients and their families.

On the administrative side, Heidi supervised the care of over eighty hospice patients and their families at one time, conducted clinical training of hospice staff, developing training manuals and collaborated with clinical supervisors on how to incorporate evidence-based practices that improve hospice care. In addition chairing multiple Performance Improvement committees, she has taught End-of-Life issues at Austin Community College. Heidi says whether it’s clinical, administrative or educational, each position has had the common goal of providing safe, compassionate, quality hospice care.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a hospice nurse, Heidi says, is the opportunity she has to get to know patients and their families during such a sacred time in their lives, “…helping someone transition comfortably and peacefully from this life to whatever they believe is next for them is extraordinary.”

Heidi lives in Dripping Springs with her husband Rich. They have two children Garrett, a UT freshman, and teenage daughter, Haley.

  

 

Cheryl Parchman, BSN, RN

Administrator / Director of Nurses

Cheryl brings a long career of nursing to the Hospice of the Hills team. She has been a consultant, manager, and director for hospitals and hospice care agencies across the State, bringing over thirty years of experience to the team.

Since receiving her nursing degree in 1979, she has cared for patients and their families in various settings; including, critical care, palliative and hospice care.

Cheryl also has an administrative background in nursing management and education. She joined the Hospice of the Hills team because she was drawn to owners Rodney and Debbie’s personal stories with hospice. Their dedication to provide the very best hospice care and ensuring the best quality of life possible to their patients and loved-ones aligns with her philosophy. Cheryl also joined because she wants to help Hospice of the Hills grow in providing this sort of care to as many people as possible within the community.

Cheryl moved into the management/director-side of nursing during her career because it gave her authority to make adjustments that would improve patient care – “I saw changes that needed to be made and decided I could help exceed the current care patients and their families were receiving.” Throughout her nursing and management career, she moved between the acute or hospital setting to a palliative, hospice setting.

Her skills translated well between the two because she was able to assist critically ill patients who wanted to leave the hospital setting for end-of-life care. She has seen how hospice care benefits the entire family. A hospice agency has the interdisciplinary team to assist in all aspects of end-of-life care; including, physical, emotional, spiritual and logistical support. “We are able to empower patients and their loved-ones, making an enormous impact at the end-of-life.”

She also has a personal history when her father entered hospice care with lung cancer. “I believe when you walk with a loved one going through the end-of-life journey, it gives you a transformed perspective. I have a better understanding and appreciation for what our patients and families are experiencing.”

Cheryl and her husband Robert are from New Braunfels, Texas and now call the Austin area home.

Kathleen Floyd, RN, CHPN

Alternate Administrator / Alternate Director of Nurses

Since 1995, Kathleen Floyd has been blessed with caring for terminally ill patients.  She says the most rewarding aspect of her nursing career is helping patients and their families achieve comfort and peace during such a difficult time. “It’s truly an honor and privilege to be with them and something I don’t take for granted,” says Kathleen.

Kathleen has also experienced hospice personally when her mother passed away from breast cancer. She says she can really relate to the families, “Even though I was a hospice nurse, I felt like I didn’t know what to do because it was my mom and it was so emotional.” She adds, “Having hospice assist with my mom’s care allowed   me to be her daughter rather than her nurse.”

Regardless of the diagnosis, hospice offers hope of a peaceful journey from this life where patients are surrounded by their loved ones and are provided with the necessary support. “It’s not just about the patient – It’s about the family too,” says Kathleen. Kathleen joined the Hospice of the Hills team because of their mission and values towards exceptional end-of-life care.

She received her nursing degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 1992 and went on to work at Houston’s Ben Taub General Hospital in the surgical intensive care unit for three years. She found her love of hospice care in 1995 and has never looked back.

Kathleen lives in the Austin area with her two amazing children and big, lovable dog named Mac.

Irene McGuire, RN

Field Nurse

Irene considers hospice care her calling. It doesn’t feel like a job to her because she enjoys it so much, getting back as much as she gives.

She was working for a hospice care agency in the Austin area up until the end of 2012 and enjoyed the work so much she allowed the hours to get away from her. Consequently, she took a more administrative side to nursing and began working in the family practice department at Austin Diagnostic Clinic. However, she missed the contact and interaction with patients and their families. Deciding to use her gifts and talents, Irene began searching for other opportunities and found Hospice of the Hills, which was a perfect fit.

She joined the Hospice of the Hills team because they believed in the same things she did about quality, compassionate hospice care. She also appreciates the teamwork aspect they have towards hospice care, working together for the patient and their family with the same goal and mission.

Irene is naturally a nurturing person and enjoys helping out where she can. She has a unique understanding of the natural stages a patient and their family experience during the end-of-life journey. She also has personal experience that gives her another level of empathy. Her husband passed away from brain cancer 17 years ago when her children were ages three and eight. Afterwards, she decided to become a nurse – it was through this she developed her calling. She also says the hospice experience she had with her husband left such a positive impact she wanted to give back what had been given to her.

She doesn’t know how people get through the passing of a loved one without a positive hospice experience. It prepares them and provides a level of knowledge that helps to understand the end-of-life journey. Irene says people are always so incredibly grateful afterwards and want to maintain contact because you are going through such a significant time with them – she can’t imagine doing anything else.

Irene has been in the South Austin area since 1990. Both her children are now grown and also living in the area.

LeeAnn Swanson

Office Manager

LeeAnn says her greatest role being Hospice of the Hills’s office manager is how she is the one taking care of the people who take care of people. While she doesn’t usually see the patients and their families, she is busy supporting the frontline team behind the scenes.

After a career in retail and merchandising management, then for a property management company and bookkeeper for an insurance company, LeeAnn made the shift into hospice care. The catalyst was after a personal hospice experience with her mother who passed away in 2004 from pancreatic cancer. LeeAnn said the hospice  team was a lifeline for her and her family as they were dealing with end-of-life   issues. She also developed a longing to have a job that was close to her heart, working for more than just a paycheck.

LeeAnn began in hospice as an admissions specialist where her personal history with hospice gave her an unique understanding of what patients and families endure. Following, she became Business Manager and Director of Operations at Hope Hospice in Checotah, OK. LeeAnn joined the Hospice of the Hills team because owners, Rodney and Debbie’s personal hospice stories and reasons for opening Hospice of the Hills touched her deeply.

At first, death and dying on a daily basis was difficult for LeeAnn. But with each passing from this life to the next, there was great joy amidst the sadness. Knowing everything was done to the best of the hospice team’s ability, prepared both the patient and their family. She knows how valuable hospice can be for a family in terms of support and care, being a huge resource where each discipline within the team offers a gifted service.

When she’s not working tirelessly at this job she loves, LeeAnn does stand-up comedy. She says she gets a lot of crazy looks when she tells people what she does, but her humor within the hospice office is an asset in a field that can be as challenging as it is rewarding. LeeAnn is the go-to person when things get heavy and lightens the load for staff, having an unique ability to make co-workers smile and laugh, relieving their stress.

LeeAnn grew up in Texas and was happy to return home where she lives in Austin with her husband Joe. She has two sons, Andy in Oklahoma, and Chris who lives with his wife, also in Austin.

 

Rebecca Homminga, RN, BSN, WOCN

Wound Care Specialist

It is because of hospice care that Rebecca Homminga returned to nursing school. She says hospice provides her the opportunity to give such sweet, tender care to her patients while using every skill she has learned as a nurse.

She joined the Hospice of the Hills team because they shared her same values and mission toward hospice care. Becky has been working in hospice care since 1996 and says her experience has helped her prioritize what is most important in life. She believes of all of the things we spend most of our life chasing after, most end up not making much of a difference toward the end of this life – What matters most is simply yourself and those you care about.

With her background, Becky has seen hospice care benefit patients and families because of it holistic approach by providing care that encompasses the whole family.

She has witnessed hospice care bring people closer together by helping them understand the dying process, reminding people that it is a normal, very important part of life that deserves to be honored and treated with utmost respect. Becky has had her own personal hospice care experiences with her late husband and stepfather.

Becky graduated cum laude from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and is a graduate of the Wound Ostomy, Continence Nursing Education (WOCNCB) Program at M.D. Anderson Center. She is also WOCNCB board certified in foot and nail care.

Becky lives in Austin with her very big and happy family.

Kayleigh Cunningham, LMSW

Social Worker

Kayleigh joined the Hospice of the Hills Team because of the obvious respect each member has for one another and the holistic approach they take in caring for their patients. She had been looking for an agency that shared her beliefs towards care, sincerely loving and serving their patients.

While receiving her Masters in Social Work from Baylor University, Kayleigh realized her passion for hospice. She says it was when one of her most challenging, and favorite professors shared several entries from her journal about her hospice work. Kayleigh said she saw a glimpse of how social work fit into hospice care and it matched perfectly with her love of the elderly and desire to work with entire families.

Her first experience with hospice care was a personal one when her grandfather was dying of throat cancer. She says she remembered how thankful her dad was that her grandfather was not in pain during his last few weeks of this life.

Before connecting with the Hospice of the Hills team, Kayleigh was Director of Social Services at Wesley Woods HealthCare Center in Waco, Texas. Here she managed a caseload of over one hundred residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. She developed strong bonds with its residents and their families.

Often times, Kayleigh says she recommended hospice to help comfort families in the disease and dying process by encouraging families that hospice was extra hands, eyes and ears for their loved ones. Kayleigh also has an understanding of the importance people have for independent living where they can have dignity and quality of life through her internship at Friends for Life, a non-profit striving to help elderly and people with disabilities maintain their independence.

Kayleigh lives in Bee Cave with her husband Craig and “sweet” dog Riley.

Ron Kelling, BS, MDiv, CPE

Director of Pastoral Care

Chaplain Kelling comes to the Hospice of the Hills Team from the area’s Lakeway Church and is also a retired Air Force chaplain. He served as a chaplain for 28 years, giving him the opportunity to work alongside people of all ethnic and spiritual backgrounds through unexpected tragedy, trauma and grief.

He joined the Hospice of the Hills team because of his deep desire to serve patients and their families during the latter stages of a loved-ones life. Chaplain Kelling also appreciates the strong commitment owners Rodney and Debbie Gamble have to ensure every client and family member is served with a genuinely caring spirit.

Chaplain Kelling has extensive experience helping both patients and families during the uncertain and emotionally stressful times of a serious illness and death. He served as a hospital chaplain after receiving his clinical pastoral education and certification through the Trinity Medical Center in Minot, North Dakota.

Chaplain Kelling says end-of-life issues are medically, emotionally and spiritually difficult times for both the patient and their family. Quality, compassionate hospice care provides the much-needed support patients and family members require during this stressful time. He and the entire Hospice of the Hills team lovingly and sensitively address each of these needs as dedicated professional caregivers for both the patient and their family. Chaplain Kelling has witnessed how much this type of care offers the best quality-of-life possible for everyone involved and is honored to be a part of it.

He and his wife Carol have been a part of the Lakeway community since 2006 and have a daughter and grandchildren in Cedar Park.

Bonita Griffith, RN, MA, BCC

Chaplain

Bonita joined the Hospice of the Hills team because she is passionate about helping those with a terminal illness and their families think through the issues surrounding the end of this life. Bonita officially retired in 2005. However, she says she has plenty of remaining energy. She is fueled by her desire to help others confront and process dying so they are able to have a more conscious, peaceful end-of-life journey.

Bonita has been a Hospice Chaplain since 1990. This role combined with a nursing background in the Army Nurse Corps gives her a unique ability to offer families and their loved ones a holistic approach to hospice care. Not only does Bonita have extensive professional experience in ushering others through the end-of-life journey, she has been through it herself with her late husband, father, mother and son.

She says there is nothing like personal experience to identify with other’s feelings. The greatest thing she says she’s learned is not what you say but how you are – It’s your presence that is so important. You don’t need words. They have their own answers. Bonita says she just helps others find answers within themselves. A level of comfort with death is important when you are going to be with the dying, she says. People can sense discomfort and she doesn’t think death is the worst thing.

Using her professional and personal experience, Bonita teaches classes about a conscious response to death and dying at the UT Social Work department and various civic and church communities. Bonita and her husband David live in the Hills of Lakeway.

Additional Staff:

Vicki Mastrodicasa, RN – On-Call Nurse

Melissa Godina & Theresa Bates – CNAs

Stacy Schmitt – Chaplain & Hospice Massage Therapist

Amy Ecklund – Speech Therapist

Ruth Cummings – Physical Therapist

Gemma Cercone – Occupational Therapist

Leslie Bagby, RD, LD, CNSD – Dietician

Dede Sparks – Social Work Consultant

Beverly McCune, Music-Thanatologist (harp)

Categories
Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills – Hospice Care Recommendations & Reviews

“With regard to the services we received while our sister was in the Summit, we felt very fortunate to have chosen the services of Hospice of the Hills. We had several occasions to witness how well they related to the patient and they were just wonderful especially during her final moments. We would highly recommend them over any of the other services offered.”

Margaret and Jim Myers

“It is hard to express our gratitude to this amazing team and how they cared for us! Having Hospice of the Hills involved with our recent loss was a huge blessing! The team helped to calm the fear of dying by walking us through this very natural end of life process. When we were faced with another declining parent the next month there was no doubt who we wanted to talk through this with.”

Bob and Cathy Fuller Lakeway

“Dear Debbie & Rodney,

Your nurses and care givers provided a level of service that was so very caring and compassionate under extremely difficult times. We felt like they all went above and beyond the call of duty. They were so very compassionate and loving to the whole family. Your attention to the needs of both of our fathers during these times made this process easier than we expected. Thank you,”

Tom and Vicki Volick

“Debbie,

I will tell you that Beverly McCune was so precious in the harp playing. That was such a wonderful gift! I will always remember this gift. We had only wonderful memories of your staff coming to help us- I have recommended to so many people how wonderful you were to my husband. Love and blessings to you all.”

Linda J. Cox

Dear Melissa,

“There aren’t enough words to tell you how much I appreciate all of the love, kindness and caring you gave to my grandmother. She always looked forward to seeing you and I know she loves you and appreciates all you did for her. May God always bless you and multiply all the love you give to others.”

Love, Annette

“To the wonderful staff at Hospice of the Hills:

You brought us great comfort during Barbara’s final months… we can’t thank you enough for everything you did. You’ll be in our hearts, always.”

Family of Barbara Caraway

“Dear Debbie:

It’s rare for an organization to have so many outstanding employees, but every single person we met did a fantastic job… And Beverly, the harpist, how very helpful that was. I was doubtful about that, but it truly was a turning point for us all. And I think it helped Ben to let go and relax. I’m not sure how we would have gotten through this without everyone at Hospice of the Hills…I truly do not. Your help was invaluable and we are so very grateful to you all. SO we are telling everyone we know what a fantastic organization you have. My thanks again to everyone we met.”

Most sincerely, Carolyn Ellis

“Dear Debbie and Rodney,

Paul and I want to thank you and the wonderful caring angels you have at Hospice of the Hills. I did not have any idea what kind of care you and your family provided. When I cried they cried and comforted me but they also laughed with me as well. I had never seen death of a loved one that wasn’t an accident up close. You all are a very wonderful family and I thank you so very much.”

Love, Connie and Paul Brady

“To the staff, We want to extend our sincere gratitude to all of you who helped care for my mom, Bernice Morton. Your caring words and kindness helped all of us during a truly difficult period. You are truly angels on the earth!

Thank you for everything.”

Nancy Pickford and family

“Dear Hospice of the Hills Staff,

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the wonderful care your staff gave to LaNell Edwards during the last month of her life. Everyone was compassionate, loving, and did a tremendous job in taking of her and meeting her needs. I especially want to mention Nanci Moon, RN and the gentle way she treated LaNell and the wonderful way she interacted with Mr. Edwards’ family and family friends. She was simply wonderful and helped make the entire “end of life” process so much bearable. I am so grateful for all your efforts where LaNell was concerned. She was my “Texas Mother” and I will miss her everyday of my life. God Bless.”

So Very Grateful, Donna Kumar

“Thank you for the wonderful way you cared for my wife Cheryl and me during her last time with us. Everyone with your organization was so good to work with, and I wanted to extend a special appreciation to those who worked closest with us and really loved on Cheryl – Nanci, Melissa, and Kayleigh. This has been a very difficult season for our family, but your care and compassion helped us along.”

Stephen Fain

“If you find that your family is in need of a caring, wonderful hospice, then look no further than Hospice of the Hills. Our family can give the highest of praise for everyone at Hospice of the Hills. They are knowledgeable, caring, supportive and loving. The staff at Hospice of the Hills (512-614-2851) considered the patient and family needs at all times. They worked hard to accommodate the wishes of all the family members. They explained the process and helped us to better understand what our loved one was going through. Our family, including the patient felt that Hospice of the Hills was a wonderful blessing to us.” Michael and Andrea Standish

“Dear Hospice of the Hills,

Thanks so much for all the care you gave to Mike and me during such a trying time. I especially want to thank Nanci Moon for her care and being there when we needed her. She’s so special. Debbie you ‘re so special, too.”

Love, Pat Stone

“Thank you hospice for four weeks of service. Your staff and consideration on all fronts were professional and greatly appreciated. God bless you and thanks again.”

Bert Whittlesey

“Dear Friends,

The appreciation we feel is beyond what words can describe. Your gentle, loving care for our mother in her final three days will be forever engraved in our hearts. With love and appreciation,”

Susan Rose, Kathy Lee, and the entire Betty Nutt family

“Where to start-

Thank you so much for the loving care you gave mom her last days here, we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you for the beautiful flowers you sent to her service and for the swan with the single yellow rose. We were so blessed to have you all in our lives during this difficult time.”

Rex Bennett and family

“Our thanks to you all for your loving care and support.”

Carole Wood

“Thank you for the beautiful flowers. We appreciate the wonderful care you gave my mom. Nanci was such a great nurse to my mom and helped our family through a difficult time.”

Thank you,

The Benoit’s

“Amazing crew at Hospice of the Hills, Thank you so much for the care and love you gave Jerry and our family. In a tremendously difficult year, you gave us calm and peace. Know that we love and appreciate you all.”

Love and Blessings,

The Crouchs

“We had not experienced anyone receiving Hospice care before, but now we know well how valuable and loving your service is.”

Carl and Susie Johnson

“You were there for me and my family. We were in such need of your compassion, your kindness, and your love. You answered our prayers.”

Betty Moderhack

“It is fortunate to have this professional group in our community. We chose Hospice of the Hills. We never regretted it. I highly recommend Hospice of the Hills to anyone to choose a hospice group to care for a loved one. They truly helped us through a very difficult time.”

Darlene Marcum

“There was not a single weak spot in the overall care provided by Hospice of the Hills.

The nurses were as compassionate as competent. They answered every question; they made sure I was trained and equipped to care for my wife, anticipated most of the situations I would face and quickly returned calls, or came to the house when I needed them. The young lady who bathed my wife and changed her sheets was an angel.”

George Chafee

“I had the opportunity to have been present at a presentation by Debbie and Rodney Gamble, the owners of Hospice of the Hills. It was, therefore, an easy decision as to who to call, but I never would have imagined that anyone or any organization as a whole could give such professional, thorough, and compassionate care. When you need hospice care for your loved one, we unequivocally recommend Hospice of the Hills.”

Dee & Don Paczkowski

“The incredible job this group did include:

• Take charge nurses that made sure Mother received the best care. • A minister on call to pray with us. • Making all the arrangements with the out of town funeral home. • Continuing calls to check on my husband and I and books to offer grief support.

The founders, Debbie and Rodney Gamble, are residents of the Hills and members of The Lakeway Church. We are very fortunate to have this competent, professional and caring group in our city.”

Joyce Johntz

“It was a difficult journey, but my experience with Hospice of the Hills confirmed that hospice care in theory is a very powerful support, but the human element and the very compassionate individuals that carry out that service make a difference and compel me to share my appreciation.”

Nancy Pearce

“We thank you for the creation of your amazing hospice with the godly underpinning that pervaded all the care, for the top rate services provided by all the nurses, aides and the other support staff members, for going above and beyond (beautiful harp vigil!!) in so many instances, and the love that shined throughout at all times.”

The Wertz Family

“At every turn, our questions were answered, our needs were anticipated and aspects of the next step in the process were explained. Just the right person from the hospice would turn up on our doorstep with supplies, medications, or ready to simply listen to our concerns or pray with us. In every aspect of hospice care, we cannot imagine a better source than Hospice of the Hills. If caring for a loved one at the end of life’s journey is needed, we highly recommend that you contact Hospice of the Hills.”

Susan Olrich

“I want to share with all of you a wonderful hospice provider here in Lakeway. I worked with Hospice of the Hills recently and they were fantastic! Hospice care is so important and these people really cared about the family they were working with. They were so helpful, knowledgeable, and easy to contact. I called them on a Sunday and they spoke with me on their cell phones for an hour. They are also locally owned.”

Bridget Daehler

“Thank you so much for the beautiful rose and the sweet card- everyone was so incredibly kind to us- and dad and I really appreciated your help and support. You all will forever have a special place in my heart.”

Alicia Itria

Read more testimonials

Categories
Austin Texas Hospice Care

Discovered: The Magic Word

May 30, 2012, 6:00 am

By PAULA SPAN

The word “hospice” usually evokes a shift, a pivot from trying to cure to providing comfort and support at the end of life. Hospice workers help people through the final weeks and months of terminal illness, easing dying people’s pain and fear, bolstering their exhausted families.

But in one case I heard about recently, the word served a different function: It became a kind of magic shield. Simply saying it could protect against unwanted medical treatments for a vulnerable old woman who possibly wasn’t dying at all.

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Sarah Kyung Lee with her grandson, Wyatt Lee.

Dr. Sei Lee, a geriatrician and palliative care specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who told me the story, described this use of hospice as “an amulet to ward off overly aggressive care.” He put that potent word to use a few weeks ago; the woman in question was his mother.

Sarah Kyung Lee, 76, lives in a small board-and-care home in Foster City, Calif. A tiny woman, she was out for a walk in March when she was grazed by an S.U.V. whose driver, backing up, evidently didn’t see her. “It was by all accounts, including the police report, a very low-velocity collision,” Dr. Lee said. It didn’t even dent her walker. “But it was enough that she fell and hit her head on the sidewalk.”

She was admitted to Stanford Hospital. At first, “I was hopeful she could go home in two or three days,” Dr. Lee said. Though E.R. doctors saw evidence of bleeding in the brain, subsequent scans showed it had stopped.

Hospitalizations rarely go so smoothly for older people with multiple health problems, however. Mrs. Lee had undergone two heart valve replacements and was on a blood thinner. She’d suffered two strokes and had high blood pressure. The stress of the accident kicked off an episode of recurrent atrial fibrillation, sending her heart rate to dangerous speeds. She developed delirium, as many hospitalized older people do.

Placed in a transitional care unit, “she had all these lines to monitor her heart, IVs in case they had to give her additional meds,” Dr. Lee recalled. Aides interrupted her sleep for blood tests before dawn. Fearful that she might fall if she tried to get up to use the bathroom, doctors inserted a urinary catheter.

Let me point out that if you’re a confused, hospitalized 76-year-old, the advocate you want at your bedside is Dr. Lee, author of numerous research articles on caring for frail, elderly patients. He had the expertise to know that atrial fibrillation could reverse itself. “We wanted to give my mother a chance to get better,” he explained. “In a week, there was a good chance she could snap out of this.” But he also knew how hospitals function.

His sister arrived from Oregon. “We were trying as best we could to minimize the interventions that would make our mother uncomfortable,” he said. What he wanted was “high-touch, low-tech care”: people to reorient her in Korean (Mrs. Lee spoke little English), to offer her favorite foods instead of bland mush, to let her sleep. University hospitals don’t tend to operate that way.

“I had to be hyper-vigilant,” he said, describing his conversations with every new doctor and nurse. He feared further procedures and medications. “It was exhausting feeling I had to be constantly on the lookout against the vast machinery of the hospital.”

So Dr. Lee summoned the power of the H-word and asked for hospice care. The palliative care team agreed that this patient had better than 50/50 odds of dying within six months, the prognosis required for enrollment. Yet, “I told the hospice doctors that my best guess was, she’d graduate from hospice,” Dr. Lee said. “These were all problems that with time could get better.”

Once he wielded the amulet, “the change was fairly instantaneous.” And well-timed: The next day, as his mother awaited discharge, nurses noticed flecks of blood when she vomited, which sometimes signals internal bleeding. The normal procedure would have involved a naso-gastric tube (something Dr. Lee had tried on himself as a medical student and found intensely uncomfortable), then sedation and insertion of a second tube through her esophagus, into her small intestine. “But they didn’t do it,” Dr. Lee explained, with relief, “because she was under the care of a hospice.”

Instead, he took his mother home. Over the next four weeks, Pathways Hospice sent nurses, social workers, aides and a chaplain to her residence. Because she wasn’t a typical hospice patient, the Lees still encountered policies that didn’t quite fit her needs; for example, she didn’t need pain medication. Nonetheless, Mrs. Lee recovered her mental clarity, ate and slept better, regained strength.

“Invoking hospice allowed me and my sister to relax and have some confidence that the care she was getting was what she needed,” Dr. Lee said. Mrs. Lee, who was indeed discharged from hospice last month, is doing well.

Each year, more than 15 percent of elderly patients leave hospice care, usually because their health has stabilized, according to a 2008 study; some will return as their decline resumes. Discharge can be nightmarish for a family that’s come to rely on hospice help, but those are the Medicare rules hospices must play by.

Caring for those expected to recover is not what hospices are designed to do, of course. And Dr. Lee’s gambit wouldn’t work for most of us; we lack his knowledge.

But it’s a cautionary tale, if we needed another, of how hospital policies can be at odds with the needs of frail elders. The way to ensure the most personalized, least invasive care for Mrs. Lee was to say, in effect, “We’re taking her home to die.”

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Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills – Passionate about Heartfelt Hospice Care

  

 
“Our mission is to provide the terminally ill patient and their families with heartfelt support and care in meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs with compassion, dignity and grace. Our belief is that people are best served by retaining freedom and dignity so they may live their life to the fullest until life’s end. We are committed to providing this comfort and care with the highest level of ethical standards and impeccable integrity using a comprehensive and competent team approach.”

You will encounter dedication and passion in every Hospice of the Hills professional. Its founders Rodney and Debbie Gamble created Hospice of the Hills after their own hospice care experiences and committed to assembling a team who shared their mission. Motivated by both exceptional and distressing hospice care for their mothers, they’re fervently committed to ensuring everyone receives a respectful and caring end-of-life experience.

The Hospice of the Hills team has over 100 years of combined hospice experience.  Our patients and their families can be confident in knowing they are receiving the best possible care. Both professional and personal hospice practice is what drives our team’s commitment to providing care that meets the physical, medical, emotional and spiritual needs of our patients. It also fuels their commitment to educate the community about their rights regarding hospice. Hospice of the Hills is dedicated to the patient and their rights, desiring every patient and their family to know they have the right to the hospice agency of their choice, just like they have the choice to continue aggressive treatment for a cure or the path of palliative care with hospice.

 

Desiring loved ones and families to experience the blessings of hospice care, Hospice of the Hills is dedicated to superior compassionate care through our core values:

Commitment: We are committed to compassionate care with grace and dignity so our patients have quality-of-life surrounded by loved ones.

Passion: Through our own personal experiences, we are passionate about ensuring everyone receives respectful, stress-free hospice care.

Respect: We provide heartfelt support and care to our patients and families as if our own.

Service Excellence: We are dedicated to respecting the desires and needs of our patients and families.

Community: We are a team of local professionals who understand it’s more than a location, but a team working together towards a unified goal.

Integrity: We guarantee impeccable integrity through the highest level of ethical standards.

Accountability: We are licensed, and adhere to all state and federal regulations.

Quality: We provide high-quality care with exceptional medical equipment and professional expertise.

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Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills – Media

  

One of our missions is to educate the community about hospice care. In addition to, a patient’s rights about selecting an agency and when to enter hospice care. Hospice of the Hills encourages engaging in discussions about end-of-life care and is available to answer questions a patient or loved one may have. 

Click below for media coverage of Hospice of the Hills, helping folks learn more about hospice:

K-EYE Knowledge Network – Hospice Facts  (January 15, 2013)

K-EYE Knowledge Network – Hospice of the Hills (October 29, 2012)

Faces and Places (September 2012) 

Lake Travis View (October 4, 2011)

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Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills – Hospice Care Services

  

 

Hospice of the Hills is dedicated to honoring the wishes of our patients and their families. We offer an extensive choice of comprehensive treatments, care and services tailored to each of our patient’s needs and desires.

We also provide the emotional and spiritual support needed for our patients and their families during this very important time. Our staff provides education to family members on caring and coping with the patient’s illness and its effects. This allows your loved one to remain in the comfort of their own home.

Our reliable team of professionals provides stability and continuity of hospice care regardless of where a patient resides, whether inside a home, nursing home, assisted living residence, hospital or inpatient facility.

We understand your wishes and will develop a hospice care plan that meets your needs and concerns. Call us for a private consultation.

 

Hospice of the Hills Offers:

  • Palliative symptom management
  • Physician guided care
  • Medications related to diagnosis, medical equipment, and supplies
  • Registered and Licensed Nurses including 24-hour, on-call availability
  • Registered and Licensed Clinical Dietitians
  • Social work services
  • Speech & massage therapy
  • Volunteer services for patients as well as caregiver guidance and support
  • Spiritual care for all faiths
  • Bereavement services focusing on grief support
  • Beverly McCune, Music-Thanatologist (harp)
  • Canine therapy – to learn more about this unique, emotional wellness service, please visit their web site: divinecanines.org.

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Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills – Hospice Care Education

Hospice of the Hills is dedicated to educating the community about their rights regarding hospice care. Every patient and their family have the right to the hospice agency of their choice, just like they have the choice to continue aggressive treatment for a cure or the path of palliative care with hospice.

Our team of professionals works together to provide holistic hospice care with consistency and continuity. The Hospice of the Hills team applies their expertise and passion to give exceptional end-of-life care. They are dedicated to understanding your needs, offering support and rendering care on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

Through our team approach to expert medical care, we focus on pain and symptom management, and help locate any resources for the psychological, financial, and legal needs of our patients and family.

Thinking about hospice raises many questions. Below we answer some of the most common questions people have about hospice care. Whether you are thinking about hospice now or want to know more for the future, please contact us if you have any additional questions. We would love to talk with you.

When is hospice care appropriate?

Hospice care is appropriate when the goals of treatment change from finding a cure to comfort or palliative care. Since emphasis is on comfort and support, the decision to enter a hospice program should be made early enough for the patient and family to fully benefit from all hospice services. Hospice is most effective when sufficient time is available to establish a trusting relationship with patients and their families.

Who can refer a patient to hospice care?

By law, anyone can refer a patient to a hospice program. However, a physician must give the order to admit a patient into hospice care. Referrals for hospice care can be accepted from patients, a family member, physician, a member of clergy, discharge planner or another concerned professional or friend. A patient and their family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends.

Will our physician tell us when hospice is appropriate?

Yes, your physician will discuss hospice care when it is needed. However, it is best to request information about hospice before you need it, so you can understand your options and access appropriate services. You should always feel free to raise the question with your physician.

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Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills – Bee Cave, TX – Compassionate Hospice Care

  

We would love to speak with you and learn more about your desires and needs so Hospice of the Hills can help provide you and your loved one with a quality end-of-life experience. We are here to offer you support and answer any questions you have about hospice care and our services.

Hospice of the Hills

11719 Bee Cave Road, Suite 100

Bee Cave, Texas 78738

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

512-614-2851

 

 

Volunteers

Volunteers play a key role in our hospice care by providing comfort and care to our patients and their families. Simply offering a hand in friendship can make a real difference for many families. If you would like to talk to someone or learn more about volunteering with Hospice of the Hills, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

160-fight-1524578

If you have a gift for caring for others, you can build a fulfilling career with the like-minded professionals at Hospice of the Hills. We focus on our patients and their families because those at the end of life’s journey need special attention and care in order to make the most of their remaining days. Our team deeply respects human life and works diligently toward a positive working environment that supports co-workers, creating a deeply rewarding career.

To learn more about positions available or possible careers click here…or contact us at

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us: 512-614-2851

Medical Community

Staying current with constant changes in the hospice care industry can be a very time consuming task. You can remain current and up-to-date on relevant information regarding this industry by receiving our quarterly newsletter. You will also receive valuable resources for consulting with your patients on hospice care. To receive our quarterly newsletter, please email:

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Hospice of the Hills is licensed and accredited with the Joint Commission:

And, are members of the following:

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Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills’ Team of Experts & Medical Professionals

Our team of professionals works together to provide holistic hospice care with consistency and continuity. The Hospice of the Hills team applies their expertise and passion to give exceptional end-of-life care. They are dedicated to understanding your needs, offering support and rendering care on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

Co-Founder/Volunteer & Bereavement Facilitator

Debbie’s passion for hospice care stems from personal hospice experiences with both her mother and mother-in-law (See Our Hospice Care Story). Prior to Debbie and her husband Rodney’s decision to create Hospice of the Hills, Debbie’s empathy for people and dedication to compassionate care is evident throughout her career.

As a homebound special education teacher with the Austin Independent School District, Debbie developed student lesson plans to ensure students, who were disabled or terminally ill, were successful in the classroom. While a special education teacher for the Austin State Hospital she worked with children suffering from physical and mental abuse.

She further exercised her ability to identify with

others and offer the appropriate support through her time at the Mary Lee Foundation. Here she committed to encouraging emotionally disturbed children to develop a sense of dignity, feeling of self-worth, and skills to socially integrate and contribute to their community. By working with these people in need throughout her career, she is able to understand others in burdensome situations, offering support on a deeply personal level. Debbie is a member of multiple church, civic, and collegiate organizations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and currently resides in the Lake Travis area with her husband Rodney. They have three grown sons also living in the Austin area.

Co-Founder/
CEO & Director of Business Operations

Rodney’s passion for outstanding hospice care parallels that of his wife Debbie’s (See Our Hospice Care Story). His decision to create Hospice of the Hills with Debbie comes not only from his own hospice care experiences but from an overwhelming desire to help others. Rodney will go out of his way to lend a helping hand. His vision and energy for Hospice of the Hills keeps it operating with impeccable integrity at the highest level of ethical standards. Being native to the Austin-area, Rodney has many deep-rooted relationships in the medical and healthcare community.

Prior to founding Hospice of the Hills, Rodney’s dedication to superior service and care is evident throughout his career. He has listened and helped hundreds of individuals achieve their goals regarding retirement, life, and college planning through his financial and insurance services business. Before his 20-years as a successful business owner, Rodney acquired his keen

business sense and appreciation for teamwork from a handful of management positions. While Business Manager for Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc., he was responsible for overseeing multimillion-dollar programs involving coordinating with technical managers, contract administrators, project schedulers, and financial analysts. He was a Financial Analyst for Tracor Aerospace, Inc. and worked with the Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation as Assistant Supervisor of the Budget Section. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Business Administration. Rodney is recognized for his leadership and commitment to excellence, and is a member of multiple church, civic, and collegiate organizations. He and Debbie reside in the Lake Travis area and have three grown sons also in the Austin area.

Medical Director

Dr. Pohl is a board certified practitioner of internal medicine, pulmonology, and sleep medicine, practicing at Westlake Hospital and Seton Medical Center. Dr. Pohl believes hospice care benefits patients and families by offering practical goals that allow doctors to coordinate more effectively with the wishes of patients and their families. Moreover, when his father died, he realized his mother benefited greatly from hospice care.

Dr. Pohl joined the Hospice of the Hills team because after doing what he has done for so long he absolutely thinks hospice care has its place in medical care. With that conclusion, he wanted to use his medical experience and contribute to the team’s high-level care. He also believes it is about being at the right place and doing the right thing at the right time. Dr. Pohl’s extensive

medical background is combined with being a recognized HealthGrades Doctor, an active member of the Travis County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He is also a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. He graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and completed his residency at Boston City Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He performed his fellowship and pulmonary medicine at the University of Virginia Medical School. He and his wife Bonnie live in the Bee Cave area. They have four daughters, four granddaughters and one grandson.

Social Work Director

Richard joined the Hospice of the Hills team so he could return to using his 30-years of counseling experience on a more personal level. After many years focused on the administrative side of behavioral health, he arrived at a point where he missed having contact with people, listening to them and helping them find answers. He says the timing was right when he was approached about the Hospice of the Hills position, especially after going through a difficult and thought-provoking 14-month stretch of his own hospice care experiences with his dying father-in-law, father, and mother-in-law.

Through his career in behavioral health, he recognizes the importance of helping folks verbalize their emotions in order to deal with loss. He knows how beneficial hospice care services can be for individuals at this critical time in one’s life. As a Certified Board Approved Clinical Supervisor, Richard observes a shift towards more community-based health care.

Richard has a considerable management career in

both the care and administration sides of social work; serving as psychotherapist to individuals, families and groups of all ages as well as developing outpatient, inpatient and residential treatment programs for children, adolescents, adults and geriatric populations. By overseeing and ensuring employees received optimum care at Magellan Behavioral Health, a national behavioral health and employee assistance agency, Richard is able to identify and assist people in finding the resources they need. Richard finely-tuned his discipline of consistent, high-caliber care while an examiner for quality improvement awards at the City of Austin, using the recognized Baldrige criteria of quality assessment. Richard is also a graduate-level professor at the UT School of Social Work Adjunct Facility. Richard lives in the Austin area with his wife Donna.

Director

Jenifer joined the Hospice of the Hills team because she too wanted to bring a caring, competent hospice agency to our area. Jenifer offers 16 years of hospice care experience to the Hospice of the Hills team. She was able to hone her skills of getting things done correctly and efficiently through her role as Compliance Coordinator at Home Hospice in Odessa. Through maintaining health care records, submitting necessary applications for state and federal programs, including; Medicaid, Medicare and National Hospice & Palliative Care, she could help others with her ability to gather necessary information in a timely manner.

While working at Home Hospice, Jenifer personally benefited from their hospice care when her aunt whom she was extremely close to passed away. She says every hospice experience is different, but one thing she believes everyone can share is seeing their loved one comfortable and peaceful at the end of their journey. Jenifer has a passion for helping people and enjoys assisting them with their sometimes overwhelming and daunting administrative tasks. She also is the loving mother of two wonderful children.

Director of Pastoral Care

Pastor Rae says being with families through bereavement has been his favorite part of serving throughout his career. So when the opportunity arrived to be a part of the Hospice of the Hills team, saying yes to the responsibility was only natural. He didn’t want to miss sharing in the kind of comfort hospice care provides patients and their families during a difficult time.

He has served as Associate Pastor at Faith Bible Church in the Woodlands and is the Executive Director of The Gathering, a men’s ministry serving the Austin area that attracted over 600 men to join in its first year. While being with families through the journey to the end of this life, he is amazed by the overwhelming medical attention and care hospice can provide each patient. When his father passed away, he said the single greatest benefit

was seeing someone experienced help his mom and family. When something didn’t feel right, there was always someone there whether during the day or in the middle of the night providing rest and comfort. He recognizes every situation varies because people and their circumstances are different believing only God can provide the necessary comfort during the passing of a loved one. Pastor Rae describes himself as simply a vehicle for God’s comfort and care.

Before becoming a full-time pastor, Mark used his graphic design, marketing, sales, and business management skills in a business career spanning 17 years. He lives in Lakeway with his wife Melissa, and are parents of two grown boys.

Categories
Austin Texas Hospice Care

Hospice of the Hills, Bee Cave TX – Passionate Care

“Our mission is to provide the terminally ill patient and their families with heartfelt support and care in meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs with compassion, dignity and grace. Our belief is that people are best served by retaining freedom and dignity so they may live their life to the fullest until life’s end. We are committed to providing this comfort and care with the highest level of ethical standards and impeccable integrity using a comprehensive and competent team approach.”

You will encounter dedication and passion in every Hospice of the Hills professional. Its founders Rodney and Debbie Gamble created Hospice of the Hills after their own hospice care experiences and committed to assembling a team who shared their mission. Motivated by both exceptional and distressing hospice care for their mothers, they’re fervently committed to ensuring everyone receives a respectful and caring end-of-life experience.

Desiring loved ones and families to experience the blessings of hospice care, Hospice of the Hills is dedicated to superior compassionate care through our core values:

Commitment: We are committed to compassionate care with grace and dignity so our patients have quality-of-life surrounded by loved ones.

Passion: Through our own personal experiences, we are passionate about ensuring everyone receives respectful, stress-free hospice care.

Respect: We provide heartfelt support and care to our patients and families as if our own.

Service Excellence: We are dedicated to respecting the desires and needs of our patients and families.

Community: We are a team of local professionals who understand it’s more than a location, but a team working together towards a unified goal.

Integrity: We guarantee impeccable integrity through the highest level of ethical standards.

Accountability: We are licensed, and adhere to all state and federal regulations.

Quality: We provide high-quality care with exceptional medical equipment and professional expertise.