Interview: Denny Meneghelli, Hospice of St. Francis

Hospice of St. FrancisHospice is a concept of care, not a place. Hospice provides quality, compassionate health care to individuals facing life-limiting illnesses. Hospice focuses on maximizing the quality of life based on an individual’s choices, so that the person may live life as fully and comfortably as possible, for as long as possible.

Hospice has turned an eternal secret into a living principle ‚ that what is truly important is a life lived richly, deeply and meaningfully for as long as it lasts. Patients can die at home, surrounded by their families and friends, and with the knowledge that everything will be done to keep them pain free as they approach death. By promoting dignity, family, comfort and caring, hospice helps terminally ill patients and their loved ones cope with and find meaning in the end of life.

Denny Meneghelli serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Hospice of St Francis.

In August of 2003, I joined the Hospice of St. Francis staff in a position that required me to travel throughout Brevard County promoting the programs and services of the organization. I quickly learned that there are a lot of misconceptions about hospice care. First and foremost, many are unaware that hospice is not a place, but rather a concept of care. Terminally ill patients and their loved ones are cared for by an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, social workers, home health aids and volunteers. The team strives to maximize the patient’s quality of life to enable them to live as fully and comfortably as possible, for as long as possible.

Hospice of St. FrancisFrom the start, I have praised the expertise and compassion of those that I believe do the “real” work of Hospice of St. Francis – those that provide direct care to our patients and their loved ones. However, it was not until recently that I had the opportunity to accompany some of my co-workers on their daily rounds and as a result, I now have even greater admiration for what they do.

For my first field experience, I accompanied one of our RN’s to visit two of her patients. Our initial stop was to the home of a man that now spends his days in the hospital bed that dominates his living room. The bed has caused the patient a bit of confusion regarding where he is; however, the nurse very patiently explained that he was actually in his own home. He was thrilled to look out his living room window to the “beautiful view” – his front yard.

On another day, I had the opportunity to tag-along with one of our Social Workers. We stopped first to visit a woman that lives alone in her own home but receives a great deal of care from her granddaughter. This was not a good day; she had not slept much the night before and had the shakes today. The Social Worker immediately contacted the patient’s nurse and explained the situation. The nurse then spoke with the Hospice of St. Francis physician and arranged for him to come to the patient’s home. The physician’s visit provided an opportunity to examine the patient and make any necessary changes in her plan of care, thus making the patient as comfortable as possible.

In addition to direct care, Hospice of St. Francis strives to “give back to the community” by offering a variety of community outreach programs, including The North Star Program. This program offers children, teens and their families an opportunity to verbally express their grief and help themselves heal. As a visitor to a recent session of the children’s group, I observed a “Rock Ceremony” for two group members that were moving on to the teen group. Each child was given 4 rocks: 3 smooth rocks that represented the healing they had achieved through North Star and 1 rough rock for the difficult times to come.

Hospice of St. Francis offers numerous programs and services to our patients and their loved ones as well as residents of Brevard County. To learn more, please call 321.269.4240 (local) or 866.269.4240 (toll free) or visit our website at