When Bobbie Lippman moved from Los Angeles to South Beach, Oregon, in 1983, she didn’t miss the hectic pace of life, the traffic or crime. But she found herself thinking about the people she had met while volunteering with hospice in the San Fernando Valley.
Lippman spent two years in a hospital ward caring for people who were actively dying. The strain had taken its toll, and she had left feeling burned out. But the people’s life stories stuck with her.
“As I was walking the beach, I was thinking about those people,” Lippman said. Lippman began retelling these stories about hospice in a newspaper column, Bobbie’s Beat. At the time, there was no hospice service in Lincoln County.
Response to Lippman’s writing was overwhelming. People asked if she would start hospice on the coast. Lippman had no intention at first.“I didn’t come here to do that,” she told herself. “That’s not my job.”But her phone kept ringing. Her heart told her to take action.
Lippman recalls how in 1987, she led a “ragtag group” to create an all-volunteer hospice service. Bateman’s Funeral Home provided meeting space and a hot pot of coffee where they met before work once a week to plan and prepare. The service they created was the precursor to Samaritan Pacific Hospice and Samaritan North Lincoln Hospice that continue to serve Lincoln County 30 years later.
“Wow, the memories,” said Lippman.
There is more to hospice than holding a bedside vigil. Trained hospice staff and volunteers provide end-of-life care and support to patients and their families. In California, Lippman received 13 weeks of specialized training from doctors and nurses. She took the lead on creating a syllabus for training volunteers. But she had no experience with legal matters. Her late husband, Burt, a businessman, offered to meet with lawyers. In the early years, hospice volunteers cared for dying patients and families at home.“That’s how it all started, and it was fabulous,” Lippman said.
Eventually, hospice became affiliated with Pacific Communities Hospital and North Lincoln Hospital and was certified by Medicare. That allowed the service to grow and serve more patients and families in Lincoln County, said Sherrie Flinn, volunteer coordinator for Samaritan Hospice in Lincoln County.“It made a huge impact,” Flinn said. “Now we can take care of anyone.”
Volunteers remain essential to hospice. People’s skills are matched with meaningful opportunities to serve, from office work, to being active members of the hospice care team, working along the experienced certified nurses and care coordinators at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospice and Samaritan Pacific Hospice services. The services reach patients who live in remote parts of Lincoln and south Tillamook counties, and those with special care needs, including veterans.
Through Lippman’s writing, she continues to share stories about hospice.
“I’ve tried hard to get the message out to families to please not wait so long before calling for hospice help for their loved one,” she said.
Lippman remains an active hospice supporter, which she calls a “work of the heart.”“Hospice will always be one of my top passions.”