“Not everyone can love their jobs for decades,” said Barton, executive director of Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care, a position she’s held 27 years.
Hospice is a type of end-of-life care that focuses on the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient.
“There’s healing at the end of life,” and fear, Barton said. “Every day turns out to be something important.”
Hospice is about living, she said, and helping people meet their priorities during a portion of life when time is limited.
Born in Boston and raised in Minnesota, Barton is the daughter of a country doctor. Each day began and ended with home visits, and her father let her accompany him.
“It taught me that dying is as normal as birthing and just as important in terms of intention and grabbing every priority possible,” Barton said. “I saw that when medicine was more simple, when people were born and died in their own homes.
“We’ve returned to that.”
When Barton started as executive director, she wrote her first budget in pencil on recipe cards. It totaled $200,000 and featured her, 17 part-time employees and 75 active volunteers.
Now, the nonprofit has a budget between $17 million and $18 million, a staff of 230 and 550 active volunteers.
“It takes a community to run this particular type of nonprofit,” she said.
[pullquote]We are privileged to walk with these people.[/pullquote]The organization has seen 1,700 new patients in the past year.
“On any given day, we’re seeing 230 hospice families in our county,” she said. It also gives palliative consultation, helping with symptom control prior to hospice, to 190 people.
“I’m very proud of the fact that we hope to make a positive difference in a very important time in their life. It’s really a privilege to walk with them in that journey.”
Hospice attempts to simplify the patient’s life.
“We try to find out what’s most important to them. Most of the time, it’s keeping them comfortable, physically, mentally and spiritually,” Barton said. “We work very hard to help them” die in dignity and grace.
“More often than not, that’s in their own home. We try to get rid of the chaos and make things as normal as possible.”
Her personal mission statement is “We are privileged to walk with these people.”
[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nHr__yXYMM[/youtube]