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HOSPICE EXPANDS IN MANTECA

Office gives South County residents greater access

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HOSPICE EXPANDS IN MANTECA

Hospice of San Joaquin Executive Director Stephen Guasco led the formal opening of the new facility in Manteca Wednesday morning with staff members Teresa Olson, MSN RN nurse liaison, at right, soc...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED October 18, 2012 1:36 a.m.

It was a red letter day for Manteca and Hospice of San Joaquin Wednesday with the opening of the first Hospice office in the community near the intersection of North and Main streets.

A sizeable crowd of well-wishers gathered outside the front of the office to take part in a Manteca Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony.

Stephen Guasco, executive director, said that Hospice had reached another milestone in its long history of providing end-of-life care throughout San Joaquin County.

“Our history had very humble beginnings when 32 years ago a dozen community leaders decided that San Joaquin County residents would benefit from Hospice care.  These individuals committed personal funds to begin this new community-based healthcare service.  Soon afterward, they sought and secured modest grant funding,” he explained.

Guasco said the original Hospice headquarters was located in a borrowed office at the San Joaquin Medical Society building in downtown Stockton.  The fixed assets consisted of a used desk, a folding chair and a borrowed phone with a single phone line.

Patients were seen mostly by volunteers with the appropriate skill needs when they were available, he added.  The funding to treat the first patients came exclusively from donations with the commitment that no Hospice patient would receive a bill for services.  At that time Medicare as well as private insurance did not recognize Hospice care.

“Over 30 years later, Hospice of San Joaquin still honors its commitment that care be provided free of out-of-pocket cost to all patients,” he stressed. “The only variation is our Hospice House (in Stockton) where a sliding scale charge is applied for room and board only.”

The director said it should be noted that nearly 80 percent of the direct cost to providing Hospice House services in made possible through donations and investment earnings.

The San Joaquin Hospice program employs over 90 individuals today representing 74 full-time equivalent staff members.  Where once services were limited to staff availability, patient care is now provided seven days a week – 24 hours a day, he noted.

There are some 250 volunteers who provide a full range of services.

“Some visit patients, some provide much needed respite care for family members, while others assist in supply management and other office-related tasks.  Last year our volunteers provided nearly 11,000 hours of service – and those were only the recorded hours.  Many hours go unrecorded,” Guasco said.

He added that he is proud to report that Hospice of San Joaquin has continuously sought and received accreditation from the national Joint Commission since first earning it in 1987.

“Today we acknowledge Hospice of San Joaquin’s on-going commitment to the Manteca and surrounding South County communities, providing patient care, without interruption, since the early 1980s.  For the last two years Hospice of San Joaquin has had a dedicated South County team, he said.   Today, we are opening a home for them as well as a resource center for the citizens of the community.

“Today we celebrate the fact that Hospice of San Joaquin is an integral component of the Manteca community – no longer are we, as I have often heard, the Stockton organization providing services in the South County.”

The six-bed Hospice House is located on Pacific Avenue in Stockton, across from the University of the Pacific.

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