Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket is a specialized health care program dedicated to providing excellent physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care for persons with life-threatening illness and their families. Services are provided through an interdisciplinary team of professionals and volunteers and focus on alleviating physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms of distress and enhancing personal growth and well-being in order to help patients and their families attain the highest quality of life possible. Services are available throughout the continuum of illness, from diagnosis through cure or, if cure is not possible, through advancing illness and death. Operated as a department of Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the program is funded by Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket Foundation, a separate, tax-exempt public charity. Through this unique partnership in caring, we strive to provide state-of-the-art palliative and supportive care, and further seek to serve as a catalyst for cultural change so that:
- All persons facing the challenge of living with life threatening illness receive a range of supportive and life-enhancement services throughout the course of their disease, from the time of diagnosis onward;
- All persons requiring health care are cared for holistically, i.e., with regard for mind, body, and spirit, and with regard for their families;
- The relief of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain and suffering is pursued as aggressively as is the treatment of the disease itself;
- Effective complementary therapies are incorporated into patients’ treatment regimes when appropriate;
- Excellent supportive and palliative care are integrated into the practices of general health care providers;
- The end stage of life becomes recognized as an important and valuable life phase.
We trust that the achievement of our vision will enable persons in our community to face life-threatening illness, confident that they and their loved ones will be supported throughout their illness in a nurturing and aesthetically pleasing environment. In all that we do, we commit ourselves to maintaining financial integrity and to offering our services in a cost-effective manner.
Started as a grassroots effort by a small group of parishioners of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in 1980, the idea of hospice for Nantucket was brought to the administrator of Nantucket Cottage Hospital. After a period of time, with leadership and support from the hospital’s director of nursing and director of volunteers, the first training program for “would be” hospice volunteers was run in 1982, followed by the organization of a hospice board and the development of an all-volunteer patient care program. The program operated within the structure of the hospital for the initial period until decisions could be made about whether it should become a department of the hospital or become a separate community organization. After thoughtful deliberations amongst the board and the hospital representatives, it was decided that the community would best be served if the hospice program itself functioned as a department of the hospital, while the board would form a separate, tax-exempt organization to provide support, funding, and a community advisory committee for the program. Thus a unique partnership was created by the Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Hospice Care of Nantucket Foundation, a relationship that continues to this day.
In late 2008, the decision was made by both the hospital and the foundation to change the name of the program to Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket, in order to expand its services to care for patients who were coping with very early phases of life-threatening illness, including patients who had curable disease. Such patients could greatly benefit from supportive services, but would find it inappropriate to be receiving them from a “hospice.” The change in name has, so far, proven to achieve our objectives, and many patients with curable or early phase illnesses have greatly benefited. Thus, the program now serves patients and families throughout the entire continuum of life-threatening illness, from the time of diagnosis through cure, or, if cure is not possible, through advancing illness, death, and bereavement. The foundation has also changed its name, accordingly, to Palliative and Supportive Care of Nantucket Foundation, with the mission to continue to support this important work.