San Diego Hospice fundraiser set for Saturday morning - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Hospice fundraiser set for Saturday morning

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The end of life doesn't have to mean the end of hope. There's a passionate group of professional caregivers at San Diego Hospice that are dedicated to making that part of life's journey as comfortable as possible for patients and their families.

Eighty-five-year-old Walter Strayley is battling respiratory failure. It's a losing battle, but he's at peace.

"Once you are aware that this is the last stop on the streetcar line… it's the best place," he said.

It's a sentiment shared by many who pass through the doors of San Diego Hospice and Institute of Palliative Medicine.

"It's a different type of care in that we really help provide focus on quality of life and addressing the symptoms," Dr. Gary Buckholz said.

The doctors, nurses and counselors who work there are dedicated to preventing suffering.

"It's really a blessing for me to be able to have that team and see our ability to provide the best day of patient care possible for each of our patients," Buckholz said.

San Diego hospice is responsible for about 1,000 patients countywide every day. They go to homes and provide various services, but some patients need acute care, and that's when they check in to the 24-bed facility in Hillcrest.

The rooms are large, warm and comforting. There's no limit on visiting hours or on the number of guests.

San Diego Hospice runs many programs to provide comfort, including animal therapy and something called "Military Matters," where patients who served in the military can be recognized for their service.

And Doctor Bucholz makes a point to say the quality of the experience is enhanced by engaging the hospice early.

"Almost 100 percent of patients will say I wish my doctor referred me sooner to this service, because it's filling in these gaps, helping provide a better quality of life," he said.

And that better quality can help in the embrace of life's final journey.

"I'm happy, given the circumstances," Strayley said.

San Diego Hospice and Institute for Palliative Medicine turns no one away. To help this nonprofit in its mission, join Carlo Cecchetto this Saturday for Melisa and Kay's Walk at NTC Park at Liberty Station. Registration starts at 6 a.m., and the 5K starts at 7:30 a.m.

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