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New director guides local hospice

After 25 years with Mt. Hood Hospice, Lindy Blaesing returns as director


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART -  Lindy Blaesing relaxes near her desk in an office/board room with an open door policy. Blaesing recently was named Mt. Hood Hospice's executive director for the second time. POST PHOTO:  JIM HARTLindy Blaesing will tell you that working with dying people day after day is a ministry. She’ll say it is a calling that requires skills very difficult to teach.

In effect, she’s saying people who work well with the dying are born or gifted with the necessary skills.

Blaesing — recently named, for the second time, as executive director of Mt. Hood Hospice in Sandy — says the staff is filled with people of one accord: Their goal is to comfort the dying and their family members.

The board brought Blaesing out of retirement as interim director to fill the position left vacant in November 2012 by former director Lee Ann Church.

Blaesing has been working continuously for 25 years (since 1988) with this community-based nonprofit organization. She served as executive director the first time from 1996 to 2007, when she began her semi-retirement — acting as a part-time consultant for the past five years.

“I feel absolutely blessed to get this opportunity,” she said. “We (all the staff at Mt. Hood Hospice) have the opportunity to be a part of our families’ lives at such an important time.”

That “time” is the final months or days of a person’s life. To receive the services of any hospice requires a doctor’s statement that the prognosis gives the patient fewer than six months.

Blaesing said the 25 staff members at Mt. Hood Hospice are dedicated to a continuous number of about 35-40 patients.

“We want their dying experience to be what they need it to be,” Blaesing said. “And we follow the family (with bereavement programs) for 13 months after the death.”

Hospice care begins when the patient and family decide to stop trying to cure a disease, she said. That care always aims to help each patient be free of pain and comfortable while they wait for death. Hospice workers also do their best to respect their patients’ choices.

Mt. Hood Hospice serves patients from Multnomah and Clackamas counties and beyond because patients make the choice where they want to be served.

“Our goal is providing good quality care,” Blaesing said. “We’re not interested in being large (such as some of the large hospital-based hospices).”

Blaesing also wants people to know that Medicare provides hospice care.

“Since 1983,” she said, “the Medicare Hospice Benefit (Part A) has enabled millions of terminally ill Americans and their families to receive quality end-of-life care that provides compassion, dignity and comfort. And family members should realize they can choose any hospice they want to.”

It might be difficult to understand why working with dying people day after day brings a smile to Blaesing’s face, but she says it does.

“These families are in such a horrible place,” she said. “For the families, this is not a positive experience. They’re in the depths of despair. But working here (at Mt. Hood Hospice) allows us to do the best job we can do for these families. It’s a privilege to be a part of that.”

For more information, call Mt. Hood Hospice, at 503-668-5545.