Our beginnings in 1983
The first meeting of Hospice was held at Buxton Funeral Home in September, 1983. The local group started under the umbrella of Hospice of the Treasure Coast (located in Fort Pierce). The Okeechobee Branch organized itself and appointed Paul Buxton as President. The first volunteer training session was then held. Using office space donated by the County, the first patient (who had been waiting for services) was accepted.
In 1986 Hospice of Okeechobee was awarded a Certificate of Need by the State of Florida. Changes were also occurring nationally at that time. Congress had noticed the many benefits of Hospice's services and began reimbursing for these services under the Hospice Medicare Benefit. In 1987, Hospice of Okeechobee was issued a license by the State of Florida and became certified by Medicare and Medicaid. Hospice of Okeechobee also became a Blue Cross / Blue Shield provider. Hospice of Okeechobee began incorporating paid staff members along with their volunteers. Over the years the office moved from 207 SW 2nd St. to 210 NW Park Street.
In 1995, Hospice of Okeechobee built an office building at 411 SE 4th Street in Okeechobee. The land for the building was donated to the organization by Frieda Hamrick. The adjacent lot allows room for growth as services expand.
In 2002, Hospice of Okeechobee began offering its services to patients at Raulerson Hospital. Hospice works closely with the hospital staff in serving these patients. Through this collaboration we seek to create an atmosphere of support and understanding to help hospital patients, and those close to them, adapt and respond to the changes that occur during the final states of a life limiting illness.
In 2005, the Blue Volunteer Building was constructed on the old Hamrick property, located next to the hospice office building at 411 SE 4th Street. The volunteers hold Yard Sales in their building to raise money for hospice patient care in Okeechobee.
In 2006, Hospice of Okeechobee converted their office building to a 12 bed hospice residence. On July 31, 2006 the first patient moved into the facility, named The Hamrick Home in honor of its main benefactor. The hospice offices remain in the building, in the administrative wing.
In 2009, Hospice of Okeechobee was the proud recipient of a 5 Star Rating from the FLorida Agency for Health Care Administration. This is the highest rating possible and it reflects the top notch quality hospice care that the organization provides. The demand for services at The Hamrick Home continue to grow throughout these years. In late 2009, The Hamrick Home was licensed as a Hospice Inpatient Facility by the State of Florida.
Hospice of Okeechobee relies on the support of the community to offer the high quality patient care that it is well known for. Fundraisers help to support all hospice patient care, including services offered at The Hamrick Home. Yard Sales are held at the Blue Volunteer Building, located next to The Hamrick Home, on an ongoing basis. In 1999, Hospice of Okeechobee began a beloved Christmas tradition - the Festival of Trees. Year after year, the community enjoys coming to the event to get into the Christmas spirit and take in the vast creative talents that Okeechobee is renowned for. A few years later the Target Fun Shoot began taking place in the spring of each year. It offers a chance to support your local hospice, while testing your shooting skills. The Boots & Pearls Gala started in 2006 and has quickly become THE EVENT to attend in Okeechobee. It traditionally takes place in the fall of each year. All funds raised at each of these events remain in Okeechobee and are used to provide hospice patient care to Okeechobee's residents.