It all started in 1980 with a meeting notice in the newspaper.
Patricia Evans of Lockport, who had just witnessed a neighbor suffering terribly as he died of cancer, saw an article asking anyone interested in discussing the feasibility of developing a hospice program in Niagara County to attend a meeting in North Tonawanda.
Evans, along with about 30 other people, showed up. Other meetings followed in Niagara Falls and Lockport, and the seeds for Niagara Hospice were planted.
“Back then, not a lot of people knew about hospice, so they were just trying to decide on regulations,” Evans said.
In fact, it took eight years before Niagara Hospice served its first patient. Today, more than 20,000 patients and their families have utilized the myriad of services Niagara Hospice offers.
In 1988, the organization was housed in a small office in Cambria. Today, Niagara Hospice occupies a huge, sprawling complex on Sunset Drive in the Town of Lockport, which includes Hospice House, a residential facility; a large administrative building, extensive gardens and a pavilion that is currently under construction.
The organization also provides services to Niagara County residents who live at home, with a caregiver, at contracted nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as in hospitals.
“The growth of our organization over the past 25 years has been nothing short of incredible. We have not only had the opportunity to provide care for thousands of patients in their own homes and at area nursing facilities, but we have been able to grow an extraordinary staff and volunteer corps, build Niagara Hospice House that has been used as a model for other hospices, and develop several collaborations with long-term care facilities that share our dedication and commitment to the specialty of end-of-life care,” said Patricia Degan, director of marketing and public relations.