Ribbon Cutting: Berryville welcomes Arkansas Hospice to community

Friday, June 8, 2018
Berryville Chamber of Commerce board members Carla Mann (left) and Tyler Squires (right) hold the ribbon tight Thursday so Arkansas Hospice president and CEO Judy Wooten can cut it, officially welcoming the organization to the Berryville community.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

Arkansas Hospice is a nonprofit organization all about “Arkansans caring for Arkansans.”

That was the message of president and CEO Judy Wooten on Thursday as she thanked the Berryville and Carroll County communities for welcoming Arkansas Hospice to the area and promised that the organization is here to meet the needs of this community.

The Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting for Arkansas Hospice on Thursday at its office at 804 W. Freeman Ave., Suite 4 in the Bobcat Plaza. Arkansas Hospice held an open house, inviting guests in for refreshments and sharing information about the services they provide.

Wooten said she was thrilled with the turnout for the event.

“We’re so overwhelmed by the number of folks who came to this little event we’re having today,” she said. “It is huge to us. We are an organization who really is here to take care of Arkansans. We’re so grateful to have this opportunity to become part of the Berryville community and serve the needs of Carroll County and the surrounding counties.”

The mission statement of Arkansas Hospice, she said, is to enhance the quality of life for those facing serious illness and loss by surrounding them with love and embracing them with the best in physical, emotional and spiritual care.

“All of us carry our mission statement on the back of our badges because we want to keep it close to our hearts,” Wooten said.

Although Arkansas Hospice’s office is new to the Berryville community, she said the organization is already a part of the communities it’s serving.

“You see the folks here in the teal scrubs and the other folks working in this office. They are your family, friends and neighbors,” Wooten said, “and they’re caring for their family, friends and neighbors in this community.”

She said Arkansas Hospice was founded 26 years ago in the North Little Rock area and had two offices in North Little Rock and Conway. The nonprofit now has 10 offices and three in-patient centers and serves about 43 counties in the state, she said.

“Over the last 26 years, we’ve really grown, and it’s because of the care that our caregivers, nurses, chaplains, social workers and physicians provide every day throughout the whole 43-county service area we’re in now,” she said.

Wooten said she is proud of the work Arkansas Hospice’s caregivers do every day and grateful for it because she has experienced it firsthand.

“This is very personal for me because my father-in-law died in our care about two weeks ago,” she said. “I was overwhelmed by the care that was provided. That was in Little Rock, and I know the care provided here is just as fantastic for the patients you serve. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you do every day for our patients and families.”

She said Arkansas Hospice is committed to rural care. Nationally, she said about 15 percent of the population lives in rural areas. About 45 percent of Arkansans live in rural areas, she said, and about 67 percent of the people in Arkansas Hospice’s service areas do.

“We are in rural Arkansas, and we have figured out how to provide care in rural Arkansas,” Wooten said. “It is more difficult providing home care in a rural area because the homes are a lot more spread out than they are in a big city. We are committed to that care and service. One reason we were so excited to come to the Berryville area was because that expands our mission to serve rural Arkansas.”

The organization is always working to make hospice services available to families who need them, she said, and is committed to helping veterans. She said David “Doc” Kenser serves as the veterans services coordinator for Arkansas Hospice and is a VA accredited claims agent through the General Counsel’s Office, an affiliate with the Department of Veteran Affairs and a CVSO with the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs (ADVA).

“We may be the only hospice in the state and one of few in the nation to have a full-time veterans services coordinator,” Wooten said. “Kenser can help veterans get the benefits they deserve from the VA to help pay for other services they need. We’re here to work with you to meet the needs of those who served our country, and we know we have a lot of veterans in this service area.”

As a nonprofit, she said all of the money Arkansas Hospice makes goes back into the organization to continue its mission.

“We’re so grateful you have welcomed us into your community and allow us to work with you to meet the needs of veterans, school teachers, your moms, your dads and your children,” Wooten said. “We’re very honored to be part of the Berryville and Carroll County communities.”

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