Hospice by the Sea: A vision of life, not death

In-patient care would aim to improve quality of life for patients

    SEAN GUTHRIDGE Jan Kirk, executive director of Hospice by the Sea, works to find a place to build her dream.  SEAN GUTHRIDGE Jan Kirk, executive director of Hospice by the Sea, works to find a place to build her dream.

In an age when terminal diseases such as AIDS and cancer affect so many, Jan Kirk is striving to provide a safe haven for sufferers.

Kirk, a Middletown resident and the executive director of Hospice by the Sea, has a dream to open a hospice that would focus on living, not dying.

Kirk, who has more than 10 years of experience in hospice care, knows that the idea of Hospice by the Sea is long overdue.

"I knew we needed a facility like this, but one never came about," said Kirk. "Now I am at the place in my life when I can devote all my energy into making this happen."

While all aspects of Hospice by the Sea have been carefully researched, there is still one thing missing – a place to build the dream.

Currently, Kirk and the board members are actively seeking donations and looking to raise funds.

The mission of Hospice by the Sea, a nonprofit organization, is to provide a comfortable home-like setting for individuals who are nearing the end of their lives and to their families and caregivers.

The vision has two aspects:

First, to establish a facility where patients and their families would feel cared for by a professional staff specially trained in hospice care.

The hospice would be home-like and supportive of visits and activities with family members of all ages, including the ability for family members to stay over on a limited basis.

Second, the goal is to become a premier educational resource for hospice and palliative care.

Hospice by the Sea would provide professional services as well as education for the general public to increase awareness and understanding of the philosophy of hospice.

"Our hospice would not replace existing home-care hospices," Kirk explained. "We are an extension of them. We want to service the portion of the public that’s not being served."a

This could include any patient, from an elderly man to a 30-year-old housewife to a teen-ager to a child.

"Hospice could be for anyone who needs to take a break," said Patricia Thoms, president of the board of directors. "The goal is to create an environment where, when you walk through the door, you are cared for emotionally, physically and spiritually."

Anne Marie Hagen, a volunteer for Hospice by the Sea, knows that a facility of this sort will benefit many people.

"I got involved with Jan (Kirk) after I read about what she wanted to do," says Hagen. "As a former welfare director, I often had ailing patients and nowhere to send them."

Hospice by the Sea will be hosting a fund-raising dinner and spring fashion show.

The event will be held at Doolan’s in Spring Lake on Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m.

The tickets are $40 per person and all are welcome to attend. Contact Jan Kirk at (732) 450-1717 for more information.

Because Hospice by the Sea is a nonprofit organization, any donation of money or land will be tax deductible.