Hope Hospice

Hope Hospice and Health Services (HHHS) announced May 3 that board member Pat Brown has been elected the organization’s new president.

Brown has been on the Hope Hospice board for six years and served as vice president. He filled the seat left by former Pleasanton Police Chief Craig Eicher when Eicher’s term ended last month. Brown’s career included time as an executive for multiple media outlets.

“After a very successful career in the publishing business, I was at a point where I wanted to give back to the community,” Brown said. “I’d been invited to serve on the Hope Hospice board by a couple people who I knew from Castlewood Country Club. I knew little about hospice at the time, but I was happy to offer my experience in business management and financials.”

Brown said the staff’s positive attitude and commitment to making their patients’ final days as comfortable as possible was inspiring and led him to remain with Hope Hospice.

Jennifer Hansen is HHHS’s chief executive officer. She welcomed Brown to his new position on the board.

“We are excited to have Mr. Brown’s continued expertise to help guide Hope Hospice through planned growth,” she said.

One of the new modalities Hope is offering its patients is comfort in the form of animatronic pets. The pets were first introduced in December last year to help lessen the impact pandemic-related isolation has had on patients.

“Joy for All Companion Pets™ by Ageless Innovation are robotic cat toys designed specifically to comfort older adults in need of companionship,” Hansen said. “Early studies specifically charted the benefits for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of cognitive decline. The pets are battery powered and, when stroked, become alert and make lifelike noises and small movements.”

Hospice was able to fund the purchase of 20 cats through a donation from NorCal Minis Car Club. For hygienic reasons, the pets are gifted to recipients. Patients – especially those suffering from dementia – are prone to experiencing side effects of long-term isolation and loneliness. Nikki Tildesley, manager of volunteer services, said the pets helped patients who had to go so long without the face-to-face interaction they would normally get.

“They are truly suffering,” she said.

Kendra Strey, spokesperson for HHHS, said there have been positive results from the pets, and the organization is looking to secure more funding to add lap dogs to their repertoire.

Hope Hospice is a nonprofit serving the Tri-Valley and surrounding areas, as far north as Martinez and as far east as Brentwood. It started in 1980 as an idea between a group of friends who believed no one should die alone in a hospital. They and a small group of volunteers provided services to local families. Nurse practitioner Karen Archer was part of HHHS for 26 years. She said in the beginning, few people understood what hospice was.

“Families desperately wanted to move a terminally ill loved one from the hospital to the comfort of home, but it wasn’t possible to do on their own,” she said. “They needed the assistance of medical professionals to help with the clinical care, but full-time, in-home nursing was an insurmountable expense for most.”

Hope has now grown from the original small group to 100 clinical and administrative staff working together with volunteers to improve the quality of life for hospice patients and their loved ones.

Like everyone else, Hope Hospice was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hansen said staff and volunteers rely on personal protection equipment (PPE) to keep themselves and their patients safe. Visits with nonmedical personnel – such as chaplains and social workers – are done over the phone or virtually to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Staff are tested often to ensure everyone’s safety and community education and grief support programs, which used to meet in person, have pivoted to live presentations over Zoom.

Hope Hospice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information about services and community programs, visit www.HopeHospice.com

or call 925-829-8770.