African hospice leader tours local partner

The Community Hospice teamed up with Island Hospice in 1999.

"In 1999, when it really became noticeable that AIDS was a global pandemic, there were several people from the Community Hospice who went to Island Hospice and formed this partnership," said Karen Hamm, who is a liaison for the partnership between the two hospices and also a community grief counselor for Albany County Hospice. "We felt that it was important to share the knowledge that we have about this global pandemic."

The Community Hospice also donates money to Island Hospice and has a program set up for St. Peter's Hospital employees where they can make a payroll deduction to go to the African facility. Community Hospice also holds a number of fundraisers and makes material donations as well, specifically of supplies that are difficult to find in Zimbabwe.

"We've brought drugs over every time we travel there, and we try to transport materials depending on what their needs are," said Hamm.

In exchange, Community Hospice has learned a great deal about how to run their hospice and deal with patients through Island Hospice.

"Their hospice in Zimbabwe is the oldest hospice in all of Africa so they're very knowledgeable in how to run a hospice and how to set up a hospice," said Hamm. "The hope is that all of the hospices throughout the country could develop partnerships with the hospices in Africa so we can share our knowledge and finances and medications."

She said that the partnership is reciprocal because the programs are so different and they have so much to learn from each other.

This partnership (Island Hospice also has a partnership with a hospice in Central New York) spawned many others across the nation, and then the organization called Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa was created.

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