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Hospice continues to touch the lives of those with a life-limiting illness.

Hospice donations raised over the years have funded the dedicated hospice suite at Gunnison Valley Health’s Senior Care Center, providing a private and larger space for families with a life-limiting illness.

Gunnison Valley Health’s Director of Home Medical Services Pam Brunsell said the hospice suite has been filled since the Senior Care Center opened in November of last year.

“Hospice is an important service in our community, providing quality end of life care and family support to more than 22 families on average each year,” said Ms. Brunsell.

“Thanks to the incredible efforts of Arlene Kowal and Carol Barton, who for years were the driving forces behind hospice, we are able to continue to thrive and make a difference to many lives within our community,” she said.

Hospice began 23 years ago when registered nurse, Arlene Kowal, saw the need to bring end-of-life care to those facing a life-threatening illness. Approaching the Hospital Administration with her idea, she was tasked with researching the concept for the Gunnison Valley, establishing policies and procedures, and designing a robust volunteer program. With the program built on much needed volunteers, 40 interested community members signed up to participate. Two years later, Carol Barton joined the hospice effort as co-director with Arlene and, along with their volunteers, were active in the community raising much needed funds to support the program.

Retired founder and active volunteer of hospice Arlene Kowal said hospice was originally formed with a passion to provide a quality of life to those suffering from a life ending illness.

“Knowing the donations collected over the years has provided a dedicated suite for those to receive the care they need while families share their last moments with their loved ones makes it all worthwhile,” said Mrs. Kowal. “The hospice garden which can be viewed from the hospice suite was built by Carol Barton and provides a respite for families and residents at the Senior Care Center,” she said.

For more information on Hospice or to volunteer, please visit gunnisonvalleyhealth.org.