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Doris Ortiz is a valuable volunteer at United Hospice of Rockland.The value of UHR volunteers: Doris Ortiz

Doris Ortiz is a brand new Direct Care Volunteer at UHR who immediately put her special skills to work for a family who needed her help.

After attending Direct Care Volunteer training sessions at United Hospice of Rockland, she was uniquely able to assist a Hospice family who primarily spoke Spanish. Fluent in Spanish and English, Doris became a tremendous support to this family and UHR.

In 2011, Doris retired after 34 years of public service, serving as Assistant District Manager and District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 14 and on the Federal Government Selective Service System (Draft Board). 

In 2015, when she and her husband Victor moved to Rockland County, she was moved to volunteer in the human services field she loved. Her gut feeling told her to go to Hospice. She had recently lost her own wonderful mother and knew the challenges of being a caretaker. She thought that interacting with families that had a hospice relative would bring her some comfort and solace.
Working with that first family was comforting for Doris. She knew they valued her presence and was there to help them. She was also impressed with how the nurses, social worker, and all the Hospice staff were so responsive to the family's needs every day.

“For me, it was a bittersweet but enriching experience when the patient eventually passed,” Doris said. “However, it is rewarding for me to know that I can help other families in this situation, even if in a minimal way!”

“I am very grateful to have had this opportunity and look forward to a continued relationship with United Hospice of Rockland.”

Interested in volunteering?

UHR is currently seeking volunteers for our upcoming six-week spring Direct Care Training, Mondays from March 12 through April 16, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

UHR especially needs Direct Care Volunteers who, like Doris, can speak a second language, particularly Spanish, Creole, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Yiddish.

We also need volunteers who can assist with tasks such as office work, home repairs, haircuts, manicures, financial advice and more.

Are you a veteran? Volunteer with our Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer Program which pairs Veteran volunteers with Hospice patients who are Veterans.

If you are interested in volunteering, please complete an online application at; mail or drop it off to UHR, Attn: Carol Galione, 11 Stokum Lane, New City, NY 10956 or email cgalione@

Learn more about Doris Ortiz and the many volunteer opportunities at United Hospice of Rockland in our Impact newsletter.


Valentine’s Day when your heart is broken

UHR hospice valentine candles.jpegUHR wishes everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day and we hope you are able to spend time with the people you love!

But we also know that for those who have lost a spouse or romantic partner, the first Valentine’s Day without them can be extremely difficult. Valentine’s Day focuses on the love and life uniquely shared between two people, and when one of them is gone, the other is left to cope, grieve and reassess their life.

And those emotions can be complicated. You may be lonely or angry. You may feel guilty about wanting a new relationship. You may be overwhelmed and saddened by special memories – or ready to look back at your shared history and smile. You may have regrets or be reminded of the dreams that were never fulfilled.

How can you get through a season of love that seems focused on your loss? There is no right way to grieve, but here are a few ideas for getting through February, even with a broken heart:

•    Don’t deny or put away your feelings for the comfort of others, especially on this holiday.  
•    Accept help and support from family and friends – but allow yourself privacy to grieve as well.
•    Spend time with family to celebrate the life and love you built together.
•    Take some time out to look at photos, watch a favorite movie, listen to “your” song or hit a favorite lunch spot to remember and honor your relationship.
•    Start a new tradition with single or widowed friends who likely view the holiday with a similar apprehension. Plan a dinner out, a day trip, a party at a home or just a long coffee date.

Your grief is your journey and you should do what feels right for you. However, if your grief is leaving you feeling isolated, chronically depressed and unable to get through daily life, there is help available.

The Hope & Healing Program at United Hospice of Rockland offers specially trained bereavement counselors, social workers and volunteers with expertise in all aspects of bereavement. Our support team can help you navigate the grieving process and help you adjust to your new normal with group and individual support opportunities.

For more information, visit


Hospice and Heart: February is American Heart Month

Each February since 1963, the celebration American Heart Month has reminded us of the importance of taking care of our hearts and has raised awareness about the risks of heart disease and stroke.

Hospice of Rockland Heart Month AHA.jpgAnd yet almost everyone has been touched by the tragedy of heart disease and stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remain the leading global cause of death with more than 17.9 million deaths each year. That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

It's also the number one cause of death in the United States. About 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.

HeartWise at United Hospice of Rockland

At United Hospice of Rockland (UHR), we recognize that people who have advanced heart disease need high-quality, specialized care that is compassionate and personalized. Our HeartWise program helps to manage patients’ symptoms while focusing on an increased quality of life and reducing unwanted hospital admissions.

HeartWise provides specialized and highly skilled care in patients’ homes, in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes and the Joe Raso Hospice Residence. As a person's condition changes, we can help ease the transition from one setting to another.

What Hospice services are available through HeartWise?

  • Nurses, including 24-hour, on-call nursing care
  • Home Health Aides
  • Social Workers
  • Physician Care
  • Spiritual Support
  • Nutritionist
  • Therapies (physical, respiratory, occupational, speech, massage and music)
  • Volunteers
  • Medications
  • Medical Equipment and Supplies

HeartWise also provides support and education to the family members of those with heart disease and stroke.

When to Call:

  • Are heart medications no longer effectively managing your symptoms?
  • Do you have significant shortness of breath even while resting that impedes your ability to do the things you want and need to do?
  • Have you had repeated hospitalizations?
  • Do you have pain, anxiety, swelling, fatigue or insomnia?

If you or your loved one are experiencing any of these issues, HeartWise can help. UHR and we will contact your doctor and meet with you to determine the right time for services to begin. The sooner we become involved, the sooner we can help.

And if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease, it’s never too late to start taking better care of your heart. Even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk of heart disease by as much as 80 percent.

Click here to learn more about our HeartWise program; call 845.634.4974 or

"Groundhog Day" lesson: Making each day matter, day after day

Groundhog - UHR - FB.jpgIn the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors finds himself stuck in an endless loop of the same 24 hours, over and over again.

At first, he finds the repetitions unbearably monotonous, but he soon realizes that every day is a chance to learn something that will make the next day different, and better.

Caregivers can feel as though they are on that same treadmill with no way to get off. The tight schedule and stress of caregiving leave little time for a break in the routine. When one day blends into the next and you lose your perspective, it can be hard to find a way to get out of your own caregiving Groundhog Day.

So how can caregivers fight back against the daily grind and find their own happy ending?

Make each day matter – Don’t let the minutia of daily care overshadow what is truly important: spending quality time with your loved one.

Celebrate memories every day – Tell stories, look at photos, watch favorite movies together.

Be present in the moment – Pause each day and realize that these times will be tomorrow’s memories. Don’t let this time become a blur of errands and chores.

Have reasonable expectations – You can’t do everything and be all things to everyone. Focus on what you can prioritize today for yourself as well as others.

Find respite – “That all sounds great in theory,” you’re thinking, “but I’m exhausted, and there’s so much to do.” Ask for help. Recruit family members and friends to help with caregiving or to take over other responsibilities for you. And accept help when it is offered.

Unlike “Groundhog Day,” you only have this day once. Slow down and appreciate the time you have.


Advance Directives: Are your wishes in writing?

It can be difficult to think about planning for the end of life. There are a lot of decisions to be made, both legal and personal, and the fear that your wishes may not be executed if you should become debilitated.

An advance directive is a way you can make your wishes known and make choices about your health care today for the future. Completing advance directives will assure that your wishes will be followed and that some of the stress of that decision-making will be relieved for your loved ones.

Advance directives consist of four types (Health Care Proxy, Living Will, Do Not Resuscitate Order and Organ Donor Designation). Each enables you to convey your end-of-life wishes if you are unable to communicate.
United Hospice of Rockland, Inc. also recommends a free, secure website that safely stores your advance care documents and makes them accessible to health professionals when needed. For more details, visit

The website will allow you to review your documents on a regular basis to ensure they still reflect your wishes. You can update your documents at any time by filling out new forms and sending the updated forms to us. You can also revoke your advance directives if you have a change in life circumstances.

Contact United Hospice of Rockland at 845.634.4974 or if you would like further information or help with your advance directives.

Learn more about the practical and legal details of advance directives.

Resolutions for Caretakers

The last thing a caregiver needs is one more thing to think about, like making New Year’s resolutions.

But after the frantic pace of the holidays have passed it’s an excellent opportunity to set yourself up for a less stressful and more peaceful year.

Here are a few things caregivers can do now to make the coming year a little easier. If you are supporting a primary caregiver, take the initiative to help them achieve these goals.

Ask for and accept help – Have people offered to help you? Too often our first reaction is, “No, I can manage myself.” But a support team will free you to make the most of your time with your loved one. Have a list of tasks ready when someone volunteers.

Get organized – We can get so caught up in the daily grind that efficiency falls by the wayside. Write down every scheduled appointment; set up regular times for other people to help; organize paperwork and designate an easy-access space for medical and other supplies.

Take care of yourself – Schedule the time and support you need for respite and self-care. Take care of your physical and mental health. Take a nap, see a movie or meet a friend for coffee. Consider making a support group or counseling a part of your healthier routine.

Learn to say "No" – You are busy, exhausted and drained. You don’t need to volunteer, take on extra work or do favors for people right now. Practice saying, “I wish I could, but this isn’t a good time.”

Focus on what’s important - If you can accept help, reorganize, take a break and just say “no,” you’ll have the time and energy for what’s most important: Quality time with your loved one – time to sit and visit, look at photos and watch family movies. Don’t let time slip away because you are caught up in an endless to-do list.


United Hospice of Rockland Celebrates 30 Year Anniversary on January 4, 2018!

United Hospice of Rockland celebrates its 30 year anniversary of providing hospice care to the Rockland and lower Orange communities! We are very thankful that we have been able to provide superior end-of-life care to thousands of your loved ones, friends, neighbors, colleagues and patients. 

None of this could have happened without the support of our community. The members of our board of directors and the generosity of our countless donors have provided the necessary expertise to support and expand many of the hospice programs we provide to address the communities emerging needs, including the Joe Raso Hospice Residence that was built in 2012. If you have had a "hospice experience" than you can attest to the commitment, compassion and skill of the staff, who are the heart of hospice. We are fortunate to have had so many volunteers over the years, who continue to assist us in limitless ways.

We look forward to celebrating our anniversary with our Hospice friends and supporters all year long...stay tuned for more celebrations to come. 

Our Mission: Honoring Life, Giving Care, Bringing Comfort