In the month of April 1975, during the Lenten Season, the Rt. Reverend Sam B. Hulsey of the Trinity Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, Midland gave a presentation on the “The Hospice Movement”. It was the first time most of the congregation had ever heard of hospice; although a new concept, the inspired idea of bringing hospice to Midland was imagined and would quickly come to realization.
Just two months later, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Holman, parishioners of Holy Trinity, were scheduled for a vacation to England, the birthplace of hospice care. Reverend Hulsey asked Mrs. Sharon Holman to inquire about the English’s hospice program while on her trip and to bring back any information she could find. In response, Mrs. Holman visited two hospices in London, St. Christopher’s and St. Joseph’s. This experience cemented Sharon Holman’s passion and commitment to work with Bishop Hulsey to bring the hospice program to Midland.
Upon the Holmans' return to West Texas, Reverend Hulsey and the Holmans wrote to the National Hospice Organization as well as other hospices in the United States for information. They quickly received shared bibliographies, general hospice truths, reprints of articles from medical and nursing journals, and invitations to attend trainings and national seminars. The Midlanders were pleased that others were so willing to share expertise and assist them in the endeavor of creating Hospice of Midland.
In February 1980, after ten months of prayer and research, a twelve-member Steering Committee was formed. Its members included two physicians, a registered nurse, two lawyers, a priest, a pharmacist, a financial advisor/fundraiser, and four other committed laymen. The purpose of the committee was two-fold: 1) to determine the type of hospice program that would best serve the needs of the Midland Community; 2) guide the program’s development. The twelve quickly decided their top priorities; educating the community about hospice and ensuring that the hospice program was community-based --- for the people and by the people of Midland.
In 1980, one committee member attended the National Hospice Organization meeting in Cincinnati; five members attended a regional Hospice meeting in San Antonio, and five others attended the Hospice of Marin training seminar in California. Afterward, they spoke to approximately forty different groups in the Midland community, seeking to increase both knowledge of Hospice and support for Midland’s program. In addition, meetings were arranged with various groups who might be in contact with the Hospice program, such as hospitals, funeral homes, the Department of Human Resources, Nursing Homes and Home Health Care Agencies. Members also met with the County Medical Society to discuss Hospice and were delighted to receive a unanimous resolution of support from them. With great support from local physicians, “a Hospice Program for Midland” was adopted as one of the “Objectives for Midland for the 80s” by the Chamber of Commerce. During the first year, major organizational duties were accomplished. A hospice library a supporting fund through the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity were both created along with the inaugural mailing of the Hospice of Midland newsletter. Hospice of Midland was incorporated, bylaws were written, and an office was opened in a Sunday School room donated by the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity.
As knowledge of the hospice program spread throughout the Midland community requests for services increased. The Steering Committee decided that care could be offered on a limited basis and termed it a ‘pilot project’.
In January of 1981, Hospice of Midland, Inc. hired its first employee, a part-time RN, Gail Wilson; received tax-exempt status; wrote a Policies and Procedures Manual; trained two RN’s; wrote and adopted a brochure; held the first patient care conference; computerized a mailing list; held the first Family Bereavement Meeting; sponsored a Family Bereavement Seminar for the public; set up a 24 hour Answering Service; hired a second RN and an Office Manager, and organized the transition from a Steering Committee to a Board of Directors. By the first Board of Directors meeting in October, approximately 100 speeches had been made to various community groups, churches and professional organizations; Hospice cared for 31 patients as part of the pilot project and made bereavement follow-up visits on each; and referrals had been given by 12 physicians in Midland and one from M.D. Anderson in Houston. On October 23, 1981, Hospice of Midland was licensed by the state of Texas to provide hospice services. This license was the culmination of a full year’s work.
The Board of Directors guided a refinement to the basic hospice structure after the first year and led the organization to further growth. A psychologist and a social worker were hired on a consulting basis; the organization moved to larger office space donated by the First Presbyterian Church and refurbished by Hospice volunteers; a fund-raising project in conjunction with the American Cancer Society was held netting $185,000, divided equally between the two groups; offered an 11-week Volunteer Training Program to graduate 40 volunteers; and two representatives attended the National Hospice Organization meeting in Washington, D.C.
Hospice of Midland continued to be at the forefront of the hospice movement. Hospice of Midland participated in seminars and conventions, the city of Midland hosted the Texas State Hospice Convention and our own Elaine Magruder served as a President of the Texas State Hospice Organization. Hospice of Midland is proud to have played an integral part in assisting others in establishing hospices for their communities.
On May 23, 1983, Hospice of Midland moved to its present location at 911 West Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Ted Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. George Holt Glass gifted their family home to Hospice of Midland for its use as their main office. Hospice of Midland now operates in a warm setting that was once the home of Mabel Holt Glass and George Washington Glass. Built in 1928, this home reflects a part of Midland’s history and its beauty lends itself perfectly to the community based and community spirited program that operates there now.
The course is set for Hospice of Midland to continue its vital mission of care well into the future. Hospice of Midland began as a charity and is proud to continue to be the community’s not-for-profit hospice. No one is denied our care for inability to pay, nor is anyone billed for services not covered by medical insurance.
Hospice of Midland was born by the graciousness of a few and continues to thrive by the philanthropy of many. Our daily commitment is to the community we serve now and to be ready for those in the future who will also need our love, support and palliative care. We are humbled by those who gave us our beginning and are ever thankful to those who continue their support and encouragement to us today.