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Gorge Hospice goes bilingual

Comfort comes in two languages, courtesy of Hospice of the Gorge.

Hospice now has three full-time employees who are fluent in Spanish, including two who are bicultural as well as bilingual.

They are nurse Josie Castenada, social worker Patrick Rawson, and office coordinator Ida Ontiveros. All three working out of The Dalles, though the agency also has an office in Hood River and serves Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Klickitat and Skamania counties.

The bilingual speakers will help the 15-year-old non-profit agency reach more people who can benefit from its services, according to Sharon Mulford, executive director of Hospice.

"We have so many Spanish-speaking citizens and several in Hospice who don't speak English," Mulford said. "Now, if we have a Spanish-speaking patient, they or their family can call the office and speak in Spanish."

Hospice provides medical, social and bereavement services to people who are terminally ill and to their families.

With the bilingual staff now available, once the client is connected with Hospice, all the caregivers could be Spanish-speaking.

"It will open up an opportunity to better serve the Hispanic community," Mulford said. "We identified a greater need. I am sure there are people who are needing our services but are not aware of them.

"I think we can be a real resource to them. We've had the need for it," she said. She calls Castenada, Ontiveros and Rawson "a whole team that would be available anywhere" in the agency's six-county service area.

"Frequently patients need equipment or medicine re-fills and they need someone to talk to about that," Mulford said. Ontiveros would field most of those calls and be able to immediately determine the clients' needs. The nurse, social worker and other staff work as a team to provide patient care. Sometimes the nurse and social worker will make a joint visit to assess how often the patient should be seen, and the extent of their needs.

Ontiveros was hired this summer. Casteneda joined Hospice last year and Rawson has been with the agency for about 10 years.

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Hospice Seeks Volunteers

Hospice is currently seeking volunteers to help with patient care, assisting patients and families with errands, housework or yardwork, delivering medical equipment to homes, office work, and more. Male volunteers, especially those who speak Spanish, are particularly needed.

Volunteers take a 20-hour training taught by experts in their fields. Attendees will learn valuable information on hospice philosophy, family dynamics, and the psycho-social aspects of dying, bereavement, and dealing with stress.

The next training will be Sept. 8, Sept. 22 and Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the first and third sessions will be in The Dalles, the second in Hood River.

For information call Hospice in The Dalles at 296-3228, Hood River at 387-6449 or toll-free 1-800-955-3911, ext. 6449.

Hospice of the Gorge currently serves about 30 families; in 2000, it served a total of 62 families.

Hospice provides nurses and home health aides, homemakers, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. Director Sharon Mulford said Hospice never bills families for its services, regardless of whether or not they have Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance provider. The program is supported by United Way, memorials and other donations, as well as insurance reimbursements.

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