Contributed by Charles Hyde, Big Bend Hospice Social Worker

Prior to moving to Tallahassee in 2018, I worked for several years at a large, corporate hospice located in a metropolitan area with over 30 hospice providers, the vast majority of which were for-profit companies. The unrelenting pressure to make a profit while providing quality patient care was an ongoing challenge. As I approach my third year at Big Bend Hospice, the differences between a corporate for-profit and a local non-profit agency could not be starker. The ongoing reality of COVID-19 and its impact adds to this distinction, as we and the other non-profits in the area are affected, yet remain steadfast in our commitment to the community.

The distinctiveness of Big Bend Hospice can be found in the sheer number of services that the agency provides to its patients and their families. The agency has a tremendous breadth of services that touch on all aspects of the hospice experience—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Diversity and breadth of services compliment the diversity of the patients and their families we serve, as well as the community in which we live. We are an established, reputable, community-based health care provider with a visible presence in the community and a history in the Big Bend spanning almost 40 years. Here, decisions are made locally by leadership the employees interact with on a daily basis—not by someone in a faraway corporate office. While we are good stewards of our finances, the patients and their family’s needs are the focus of our attention. Continued growth for the non-profit does not translate into cutting services to help the bottom line; but rather, it centers around being loyal to the community and focusing on patient satisfaction. Success for a non-profit is not linked to financial profit—it is all about making a lasting, positive contribution and helping improve the quality of life in our community.

Non-profits like Big Bend Hospice are better suited to respond to the community’s needs due to their relationships with local stakeholders, intimate knowledge of the area, and years of experience in providing services. Tallahassee’s non-profit community has an expansive footprint and provides much-needed services to the community and surrounding area. The allure of the non-profit community is its experience in providing a variety of services to an increasingly diverse population. The reality of COVID-19 and its impact on our community mean that our non-profits are being asked to step up and do more, often with fewer resources, as budgets are stretched, employees are working harder than ever, and the community’s needs are increasing. The non-profits who, in this most trying moment of need and uncertainty, selflessly provide to the community will ultimately be the difference makers as we work our way back to a renewed sense of normalcy.