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Today’s donation recipient:
Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara

Aug. 12, 2013. The knock on the bedroom door came at about 2 a.m. It was a knock that had been expected the night before. And the night before that.

“I think it’s time,” said the woman on the other side of the door.

I threw on the clothes that I’d tossed on the floor just an hour or so earlier before settling into unsettled sleep, the only kind I’d been getting lately. I stopped briefly in the family room to confirm what didn’t need confirmation before going to knock, in turn, on my sister Karen’s door.

“You need to come out. She thinks it’s time.”

It was. Anyone who had been through this before would know. Mom’s breathing had changed — shallow, stuttered. As out of it as she’d been the last couple of days, out of it enough that the cantor had come two days prior to recite the Vidui (a Jewish equivalent of last rites, more or less), this was different. Now she was gone. Going.

The hospice nurse had called Daniel, our brother, before waking me and he arrived now with his wife Mandy. The nurse, having played a combo role of information source, guide and even friend, faded discretely into the background. We each took hold of Mom’s hands, and of each other. My brother started reciting the Shema, the concise declaration at the core of Judaism. As we joined in, our voices shaking, Mom left us.

And even then, a thought that had been constant in my head for the last few days remained strong: Doing this without the presence of the home-care hospice nurses would have been so much harder. Even the smallest details of care can be overwhelming at such a time. And people do go through it without that help, and without being able to have this at home or at least in a home-quality setting, whether due to lack of access or lack of awareness. They don’t need to.

The American Cancer Society’s web site notes, “Medicare, Medicaid in most states, the Department of Veterans Affairs, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations pay for hospice care. Also, community contributions, memorial donations, and foundation gifts allow many hospices to give free services to patients who can’t afford payment. Some programs charge patients according to their ability to pay.”

The Affordable Care Act (you know, Obamacare) has provisions intended to improve the quality and accessibility of both home-based and institutional hospice care. But there will always be gaps. Donations to nursing and hospice entities in communities around the country help give that care to those who would otherwise fall in those gaps.

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara is one of those entities, providing around-the-clock nursing, palliative care, hospice, and expert, sensitive emotional counseling through the process, including bereavement support — as well as such services as a “loan closet” of medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.) for patients in need. Today’s donation goes there.

About this blog: ?Causes and Effect: My Year of Giving Daily, was started in 2013 by entertainment and culture journalist Melinda Newman, who made daily donations to a wide variety of non-profits and wrote about her experience. USA Today music writer, Brian Mansfield took on this monumental task in 2014. This year, 12 individuals will contribute, each taking over the blog for one month.

About The Writer: Steve Hochman has covered the worlds of popular, and unpopular, music for more than 30 years, most of that time as a core member of the Los Angeles Times team (including 14 years writing the popular Pop Eye column). These days he’s heard yapping about a wide spectrum of music on public radio station KPCC’s “Take Two” program and KQED’s “The California Report,” as well as writing for their respective web sites. He’s a regular contributor to the BuzzBandsLA site and serves as host and interviewer for various programs at the Grammy Museum. Over the years his writing has also appeared in an array of publications, including Rolling Stone, Billboard and Entertainment Weekly, and for four years he wrote the weekly Around the World global music column for AOL’s Spinner. In addition to living in L.A., he’s a part-time New Orleanian and an avid global traveler.

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