Gratitude Abounds at Yancey Hospice

Hospice of Yancey
Hospice is a noun defined as a program which provides care and emotional support to the terminally ill and their families, focusing on comfort and quality of life. Palliative is an adjective meaning lessening, relieving, as in pain.

But the team at Yancey Hospice and Palliative Care in Burnsville, NC – nurses, doctors, CNAs, volunteers, social workers, counselors, chaplain, patients, families and office staff – think of these words as verbs as they work together to bring comfort and quality care.

Hospice is not a place, but an approach to end-of-life care. When the choice is made for a patient to stay wherever they call home, surrounded by loved ones, pursuing palliative pain relief, comfort and medical support, there is a sense of peace for the patient and their family.

The words I have heard most frequently from all involved with Yancey Hospice and Palliative Care are, “I am grateful.”

The words I have heard most frequently from all involved with Yancey Hospice and Palliative Care are, “I am grateful.”

Nancy Raskin has been driving the curvy roads of Yancey County as a hospice volunteer for twelve years. She visits patients and helps families with household tasks. She is grateful “for the deep sense of connection to people in her greater community, people she might otherwise not meet.” She enjoys using her talents as Celo Innkeeper in new ways. She listens to family stories and, with compassion, helps patients explore their end-of-life journeys. She has swept floors, done laundry, washed dishes and windows, and once a dog. She tells the story of coming home in tears after her first patient died. Her seventeen year old son said, “Mom: that was your job. You did it well.”

Nancy is currently visiting Paula Tipton and her mother who has dementia. Paula told me that she “does what she can to help her Mama, but there is only so much we know to do. If we didn’t have hospice, we couldn’t keep Mama at home where she knows.” Paula says Nancy helps her get ready for her mother’s death: They talk about her wishes, the funeral plans; and Nancy helps her organize drawers and closets, and she gets into all the “nooks and crannies of what I need.” Nurses come regularly and “whenever I need, for anything, they’ll come.”

Another volunteer is Anne Maren-Hogan. She visits patients in nursing facilities. She says she enjoys the slower ways of the people she sits with, allowing her an appreciation of reflection. She is grateful that patients tell her of their lives and what has been important to them and is touched to hear “how memories float up from people with dementia.” Anne often sings to patients and is always amazed when someone non-communicative smiles or unexpectedly responds. She says, “As I age, being with people as they die reminds me to be present to the process and to my daily life.”

An important part of the hospice and palliative team are the nurses. Nurses are on call twenty-four hours a day to answer questions on the telephone or to make home visits. Rachel Lewis, RN says that hospice “is more than just a job, it is a calling.” She is honored that she is welcomed into people’s lives during such an intimate time. “I walk away with so much more than I have given,” she says. Grateful for the people she meets, like all the nurses, she hears from the families years later about their appreciation for the heartfelt and quality of care provided.

Yancey Hospice and Palliative care is a non-profit, community organization, which brings comfort, dignity and honor to those with chronic or terminal illnesses. The team focuses on the person as well as the disease process with care that meets physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs. Hospice is not about dying. It is about helping people live as well as they can. It is about managing pain, easing the life of caregivers and supporting patients in their journeys.

Rachel Lewis believes that Maya Angelou’s words sum up the hospice team’s experiences:
Yancey Hospice and Palliative Care provides a higher standard of care with the core values of Respect, Excellence, Compassion, Integrity, Professionalism and Engagement.

To learn more call 828-682-9675, email or visit

Kathy Weisfeld is a Yancey hospice and palliative volunteer. she also volunteers with the Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center and is chair of the Carolina Mountains literary festival in Burnsville, NC. Her poems have been published in WNC Woman and Great Smokies Review.

Written by Kathy Weisfeld