Board of Directors
Chairperson Marc Carpenter—Director of Human Resources, Heritage Home Group. Board member since 1992.
Vice-chairperson James E. Sponenberg—Retired banker, Certus Bank, N.A. Board member since 2013.
Treasurer Charles Shell—Controller, RPM Wood Finishes Group, Inc. Board member since 2012.
Secretary Janet Winkler—Retired banker, Bank of Granite. CHPC Board member since 2010.
Robert Belk, MD—Medical Director emeritus, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. Board member since 1983.
Scott Brown—Chief of Police, City of Lenoir. Board member since 2015.
Joseph C. Delk, III—Attorney, private practice. Board member since 1983.
Laura Easton—President and CEO, Caldwell Memorial Hospital. Board member since 2010.
David Gray—Professional engineer, general contractor.
Board member since 1990.
Marion Hall—CPA and business advisory. Board member since 2015.
Rob Hinman—Senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Lenoir. Board member since 2006.
Mack Jarvis, III—Senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Hudson. Board member since 2015.
David Lackey—Attorney, private practice. Board member since 2014.
Dorothy Metzger—Retired Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care homecare nurse. Board member since 2012.
Tamra Starnes—Retired banker, First Union National Bank (now Wachovia Wells Fargo). Board member since 1991.
Linda Story—Retired Granite Falls Town Manager. Board member since 2012.
Wongalee Thomas—District Manager, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation. Board member since 2015.
Chair emeritus Parker Williamson—Retired CEO, The Presbyterian Lay Committee., Inc. Board member 1982-2012.
Cathy Swanson, MPH, Chief Executive Officer, since 1990. Staff medical social worker 1988-1990. Hospice Administrator Certificate Program, 2002. MPH, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2000. BS-Social Work, Western Carolina University. Nonprofit Management Certification, Duke University, 1995. The Carolinas Center for Hospice and End of Life Care's Board of Directors, vice-chair/ chair-elect, 2012-present; previously served on Hospice of the Carolinas Board of Directors, 1996-1999, chairing the Standards and Ethics Cmte., 1993-1998; Accreditation Commission for Health Care’s Board of Directors, 1995-1998. Vocational Excellence Award from Lenoir Rotary Club, 2009. Peter Keese Leadership Award from The Carolinas Center for Hospice and End-of-Life Care, 2002. Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society, 2001. Community involvement has included Altrusa Club, Caldwell Friends' Board of Directors, Committee for Healthy Families' Board of Directors, Caldwell Council for Women, Ryan White Consortium, and Lenoir Service League.
Grace Bradford, BSN-CHPN, Director of Nursing Services, since 1994. Patient Care Coordinator, 1991-1994. BS degree in Nursing, UNC-Greensboro. Earned Certification in Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing, 1995.
Martha Livingston, CSW, Director of Support Services, since 1994. Staff medical social worker, 1989-1994. Social Work Certification, 1994. BS degree in Social Work, NC State University, 1972.
April Moore, BSBA, Director of Business Services, since 2008. Volunteer coordinator, 2004-2008. BS degree in Business Administration, with double major in health care management and marketing, Appalachian State University.
Thomas More Ray, MD, CHPM—Medical Director, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, since 2007. Medical Director, Comprehensive Integrated Inpatient Rehabilitation, CVMC, 1997-2005. Associate Medical Director, Coordinated Outpatient Services, FRMC, 1996-1997. Private Practice: Rehabilitation Consultants of Hickory, 1997-2007; Rehabilitation Specialists, 1995-97. Hospital appointments: Caldwell Memorial Hospital, Cannon Memorial Hospital, Catawba Valley Medical Center, Frye Regional Medical Center, Watauga Medical Center. Professional organizations: Hospice Intermediary Advisory Committee, Medicare Administrative Contractor Palmetto GBA, 2009-present. Ethics Committee, Caldwell Memorial Hospital, October 2007-present. American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2007-present; American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1995-present; NC Medical Society, 1995-2006; Catawba County Medical Society, 1995-2006; Virginia Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1994-95; American Academy of Family Practitioners, 1987-91. Hospice and Palliative Medicine Board-Certified, 2008 (through 2018). Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, MD degree, 1991. Boston College, BA, 1983.
The mission of Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care is to provide a loving, caring atmosphere for the terminally ill, their caregivers, and families in a location appropriate for their respective needs; to relieve the emotional and physical pain of those who come into our care; to project an attitude of goodness and openness to the community so that all who need us will feel welcome and confident of our professional abilities and advocacy for patient-directed care until life’s end; to educate the community about hospice, and to serve as a leading resource for dying and grief issues. Hospice acknowledges our Christian basis, and as such, our overall purpose is to demonstrate the unqualified love of Jesus Christ in all that we do.
Caldwell Hospice is a not-for-profit organization licensed by the State of North Carolina, certified by Medicare and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care.
Every successful venture begins with a vision which is shared by or supported by the faithful trust of a larger group. Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care has been blessed over its history with visionaries, vision, and the faithful trust of that larger group.
1980: Catherine (Respess) Barnes introduced the “hospice” concept to Rev. Parker Williamson, First Presbyterian Church of Lenoir senior minister, and to her church's family night congregation, attended by Dr. Jane Carswell. Later Carswell gathered people at her house, including Respess Barnes, Williamson, and others to discuss the concept.
1981: Steering committee: Rev. Parker Williamson, Hannah Williamson, Nell Greene, Bobbie Triplett, Sarah Bolick, John A. Forlines, Jr., Wallace Respess, Catherine “Tyu Tyu” (Respess) Barnes, Fred Soule, Dr. Newell Shull, Melvin Martin, J. Harper Beall III, and Ann[e] Lutz. They spoke with area doctors concerning treatments for terminally ill patients; contacted Judith Lund/Hospice of NC, who came to speak with them; they formed a non-profit corporation. Julia Forlines, terminally ill, offered to serve as “public speaker” to 40 clubs and organizations.
1982: Hospice began in a donated Sunday School room, with money donated by First Presbyterian Church of Lenoir, Episcopal Diocese of NC, and Lenoir Service League; one full-time employee, Gibbie Harris, RN; with volunteer nurses: Catherine (Respess) Barnes, Avis Corpening, and Bobbie Triplett. Dr. Robert Belk joined as board member and volunteer medical director, July 1982; he referred the first patient to Caldwell Hospice. Roberta Blinson was the first volunteer and remains one today.
1983: Gibbie Harris, executive director, noted that, by the end of the first year, Caldwell Hospice had served 37 families, with volunteers providing much of patient care and office work.
1984: Caldwell County Hospice received initial state licensure in October. First benefit luncheon, with Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University men's basketball coach, guest speaker. Miss Margaret Harper died on November 8th and bequeathed her home, Kirkwood, to First Presbyterian Church, to be used for Caldwell Hospice as long as it was needed. The church later agreed to lease the house to Caldwell Hospice for 99 years at $1.00 per year. Caldwell Hospice had four full-time and one part-time staff members; it served 56 patients for the year, and had served more than 100 patients since its beginning. Hospice volunteer chaplaincy program was initiated by Rev. George Sinclair, United Presbyterian Church pastor and Hospice board member. The Lenoir Service League's “Just for Kicks” Follies raised $190,000 for “Home for Hospice.”
1985: Caldwell County Hospice became Medicare certified, with an August survey. More staff members were hired. The board of directors proposed patient-care-unit plans. “Harper House” renovation was approved.
1986: Caldwell Hospice moved its offices to Kirkwood; patient care unit drawings were presented at December board meeting.
1987: Fifth anniversary, with the Open House ceremony in October.
1989: NC's first free-standing patient care unit was dedicated on January 15.
1990: Cathy (Simmons) Swanson was appointed executive director, after serving as a staff medical social worker since August 1988.
1992: 10th anniversary open house, June 28. Caldwell Hospice had served nearly 800 patients and families in first decade. The patient care unit was dedicated as the William E. Stevens, Jr., PCU. Renovations began to the carriage house to relieve tight staff space.
1994: Hospice care extended to nursing homes in January, pilot project with Lenoir Living Center; Camelot Manor recommended for next nursing home project; immediate need for office space.
1995: Camelot Manor nursing home agreement signed; June patient census at an all-time high. Dr. Belk stopped practicing medicine in May; Dr. Andy Metzger volunteered to take over medical director's responsibilities.
1996: The Caldwell Hospice Foundation was established, according to John A. Forlines, Jr.: “to build an endowment fund which will enable Hospice to continue to provide personal, caring service to our terminally-ill friends and neighbors and their families in the future, regardless of changes that may be forthcoming in the health care industry.”
Dr. Robert Belk joined Caldwell Hospice staff as full-time medical director, with John Bowen, James Gardner, and Norm Einstein serving as associate medical directors.
1998: A virtual tour of Caldwell Hospice's facility on the Internet was made possible through an IBM promotion with Hospice For the Carolinas. First accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Home Care (ACHC).
1999: First Caldwell Hospice website created. News-Topic article reported that more than 2,300 terminally-ill patients and their families had been served since 1982. Caldwell Hospice video updated.
2001: Caldwell Hospice earned re-accreditation in 2001 from the Accreditation Commission for Health Care. Transitions program was initiated. Office addition construction began; established Caldwell Partnership for End-of-Life Care, a community coalition to increase awareness of importance of advance-care planning.
2002: Open house for new 4,000 square-foot addition, including chapel, office space, Wilson Meeting Room, renovation of main house, and refurbishing of the six-bed patient care unit. Catawba Valley Neighbors article announced the John A. Forlines Jr. Distinguished Service Award.
2004: “Ashewood,” JW Greer home at 1002 Ashe Avenue, was purchased and renovated, to house Ashewood Grief and Counseling Services of Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care.
Caldwell Hospice earned re-accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).
2005: Hospice collaborated with Caldwell Memorial Hospital to create the Caldwell Partnership for Palliative Care. On July 1st, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., became our name—to enhance and strengthen our expertise with issues surrounding quality of life, end of life, and grief and counseling assistance. It symbolizes our ongoing ability to recognize the growing needs of this community, and allows room to develop services in the future.
2006: Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care opened a "work station" office in Granite Falls in March, so that its home care services and staff members would be "closer to home" for patients and families in southern Caldwell County.
2007: Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care celebrated its 25th anniversary of serving patients, their families, and the community. At the 25th anniversary celebration in June, before an audience of more than 200, Executive Director Cathy Swanson presented Dr. Robert Belk, Caldwell Hospice's medical director, with the first-ever Robert S. Belk MD Excellence in Hospice Care Award, citing his compassion, dedication, and gentle spirit. Caldwell Hospice Board of Directors President Parker Williamson, former hospice steering committee member Catherine Barnes, and former executive director Gibbie Harris shared recollections of "the beginning years."
In October, Caldwell Hospice hired a second full-time physician, Dr. Thomas Ray. Caldwell Hospice earned re-accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Health Care.
2008: After completing the Certificate of Need process and gaining approval from the North Carolina Division of Health Services Regulation, Caldwell Hospice began construction in November on a 15,135 square-foot, 12-bed patient care unit to provide both acute and residential hospice care, and the 11,845 square-foot professional center to house key direct-care clinical and patient care support staff and to provide community education space.
Caldwell Hospice received two separate, unexpected financial gifts. The family of the late Marjorie Suddreth delivered a $12,400 gift that had been collected for her liver transplant. Ms. Suddreth developed complications and died before the transplant could occur.
Just a short time later, Lenoir's News-Topic reported on a special presentation by the family of the late Thomas "Jack" Robbins; Caldwell Hospice was among six local organizations plus one nationally known hospital to receive a combined $14.8 million from the estate. To finance its construction project, Caldwell Hospice initiated "A Bold Vision, Honoring Faithful Service: The Capital Campaign for Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care."
2009: Dr. Thomas Ray earned certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM). Caldwell Hospice celebrated the 20th anniversary of its six-bed patient care unit at Kirkwood, the state’s first free-standing patient care unit.
Over 300 people, representing 66 area churches, gathered Sunday, September 13, at the Pine Mountain Road construction site for a very special prayer service, Bless This House—Building on a Foundation of Prayer. Churches throughout Caldwell County made up a 67-voice choir that sang “A Resting Place Along Life’s Way,” with lyrics written for the event by Caldwell County native Danny Hendrix.
2010: On April 26, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care’s Board of Directors named its 64-acre site in Hudson the Jack and Shirley Robbins Center. In 2008, Caldwell Hospice was among seven beneficiaries of the Jack Robbins estate, receiving a $2.12 million dollar gift. The donation kick-started Caldwell Hospice’s capital campaign to raise funds for constructing the additional patient care unit and professional center on Pine Mountain Road. The patient care unit was named for long-time board treasurer John A. Forlines, Jr., and the professional center was named by Bob and Michele McCreary, long-time Caldwell Hospice supporters and owners of McCreary Modern, in honor of their family, the McCreary Family Professional Center.
On July 18, the open house ceremony and facility tour attracted an appreciative audience of approximately 500. On August 12, following State and Federal inspections and approval, Caldwell Hospice welcomed patients to the Forlines Patient Care Unit. Immediately thereafter, renovation began at the Kirkwood facility in Lenoir.
The Stevens PCU re-opened on November 29, 2010, to patients. With a combined total of 18 beds at its two locations, Caldwell Hospice offers nine residential beds (seven at the Forlines Patient Care Unit and two at the Stevens Patient Care Unit) and nine acute (five at the Forlines PCU and four at the Stevens PCU).
Caldwell Hospice earned re-accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Health Care.
Laura Easton, Caldwell Memorial Hospital’s president and CEO, and Janet Winkler, retired vice-president and manager of the Bank of Granite’s Whitnel office, accepted membership to the Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care Board of Directors.
2011: In late February, Caldwell Hospice welcomed families, staff, and the community to an open house and opportunity for a close-up view of the renovations and improvements to the six-bed Stevens Patient Care Unit, the Kirkwood offices, common rooms, interior, and exterior.
Paragon Design chose Caldwell Hospice to receive a non-profit Create-a-thon design, which allowed for a community-wide publication to showcase the organization’s programs, achievements, etc.—the first Report to the Community for 2010-2011.
Dr. Dennice Herman joined Caldwell Hospice on November 1, 2011. “I have witnessed the wonderful work done by this organization in our community and the comfort and peace brought to patients and families during the most difficult time of their lives," she said. "It is very difficult to find anyone in this community who has not been touched by hospice and palliative care in some way.”
Caldwell Hospice’s staff and Board of Directors honored Dr. Robert Belk with two retirement events in early December. The first was an evening reception to which the community was invited to join staff, Board members, and Dr. Belk’s family in showering him with well-deserved accolades for the compassionate end-of-life care he gave. The second was a luncheon attended by staff, Board members, and Dr. Belk’s family.
Dr. Thomas Ray was named Medical Director; Dr. Dennice Herman was named Associate Medical Director.
2012: Dottie Metzger retired in February 2012, concluding a 27-year Caldwell Hospice homecare nursing career. News-Topic readers voted her Caldwell County’s Best Nurse, in 2005 and again in 2008. Her philosophy of hospice care is “to keep patients comfortable, give them the dignity they deserve, and give them the opportunity to die at home.”
Caldwell Hospice commemorated its 30th anniversary in 2012. The anniversary year’s theme was “Building on 30 Years of Excellence.” CEO Cathy Swanson said, “We are proud to have served this community for 30 years. But we’re also exploring innovative ways of providing hospice and palliative care in the future. We will not give any less than the highest level of end-of-life care that our community has come to expect.”
Caldwell Hospice dedicated its Fall 2012 CareLines newsletter to Parker Williamson—who retired in 2012 after serving as Caldwell Hospice’s first and only Board of Directors President—recognizing his leadership, from defining hospice care to the community in the early 1980s, through construction of North Carolina’s first hospice inpatient unit, through hard economic times, and through opening the facility at the Robbins Center. The Board of Directors named Williamson its Chair emeritus, and Dr. Robert Belk was named Medical Director emeritus.
Dr. Dennice Herman, Caldwell Hospice’s associate medical director, and Dr. Ramesh Krishnaraj, CHPC’s weekend physician, earned Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) certification in October 2012; it will remain in effect through December 2022.
New Board members: Dottie Metzger, who retired from Caldwell Hospice homecare nursing earlier in the year; Charles Shell, controller for RPS Wood Finishes Group, and Linda Story, retired Granite Falls Town Manager.
Parker Williamson received the John A. Forlines, Jr., Distinguished Service Award. Caldwell Hospice created the award in 2001 to recognize exceptional leadership, and Forlines was its first recipient; Williamson became the second person to be so honored.
2013: James Sponenberg, former president and CEO of the Parkway Bank (now CertusBank), accepted Board of Director membership. He has also served on the Board of Directors for Caldwell Hospice Foundation, Inc., since it was founded in 1994.
Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care was re-accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc. (ACHC), for hospice home care and inpatient care services, effective from February 5, 2013, through February 6, 2016.
James Harper, Jr. resigned from the Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care Board of Directors after 20 years of service.
Caldwell Hospice and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System developed a clinical collaboration to provide outstanding hospice and palliative care services to the residents of Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties. "We have a very similar vision and mission and see many opportunities to work together in the care of our patients," said Chuck Mantooth, President, Watauga Medical Center.
Dr. Jeffrey Brown joined Caldwell Hospice as a part-time physician in December. Dr. Brown is certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and joined the Caldwell Hospice team to serve Western North Carolina's High Country.
Caldwell Hospice was chosen to partner with AccessCare to provide palliative care services to participants in a palliative care demonstration project for qualifying residents of Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties.
Dr. Dennice Herman resigned her position as Associate Medical Director to return to private practice.
2014: Stevens Patient Care Unit at Kirkwood in Lenoir celebrates 25th anniversary. It was the first free-standing hospice inpatient unit in North Carolina.
In order to meet an existing need for quality end-of-life care, Caldwell Hospice expanded its full range of services to Western North Carolina's High Country in late January. To ensure the same quality care in the High Country, a complete interdisciplinary team—physician, nurses, medical social workers, certified nursing assistants, chaplains, and volunteers—is based at a work station in Boone, NC. "We are eager to offer our approach to delivering end-of-life care to the residents in the High Country. Our staff brings years of professional experience and, more importantly, a sincere, caring attitude to the patients and families we serve. We are enthusiastic about becoming a part of the end-of-life support system for our High Country neighbors," said Marc Carpenter, Caldwell Hospice Board Chair.
Houston Groome completed his term as a member of the Caldwell Hospice Board of Directors and was recognized for 25 years of service at the 2014 Volunteer Appreciation Banquet in April.
Caldwell Hospice changed the name and look of its palliative care program to AIM: Advanced Illness Management, to make the name more clearly identify the program's purpose.
Dr. Jeffrey Brown joined Caldwell Hospice full-time as Associate Medical Director in July.
David Lackey, Attorney, accepted membership to the Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care Board of Directors.
To learn more about our programs and services, download our brochures.
Ashewood Grief and Counseling Services
To learn more about Caldwell Hospice, download our quarterly newsletter.
We appreciate your interest in Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care. We have committed ourselves to recruiting, employing, training, and promoting employees solely on the basis of the individual’s qualifications. We consider applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital or veteran status, the presence of any physical or mental medical condition or disability, or any other legally protected status in compliance with Federal and State Equal Opportunity Employment laws. Please e-mail resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care seeks FT Registered Nurses! Four positions available: PM shifts on our patient care unit, 2 full-time Registered Nurse Floaters on our patient care unit and patient homes, and full-time on-call Home Care Registered Nurse for home care. Requirements: Current NC nursing license, 2+ yrs. nursing exp., desire to interact with patients. If you want to join a compassionate team of professionals, receive competitive wages and benefits, mail resumes to: Human Resources, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, 902 Kirkwood St., NW, Lenoir, NC 28645 or email to email@example.com. Resume deadline: September 25.
Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care seeks PRN CNAs to work with home care hospice patients in Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties. Requirements: HS diploma + current listing on NC State Registry. Duties: assist with personal care, ambulation, and provide homemaker services, as needed. Resumes to: Human Resources, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, 902 Kirkwood St., NW, Lenoir, NC 28645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Kirkwood, 902 Kirkwood Street, NW, Lenoir, NC
- Travel SOUTH on US 321; travel approx. 17 mi.
- Turn RIGHT onto 321-Alternate/N MAIN ST/Southwest Loop (at Holiday Superette).
- At first stop light, turn LEFT onto South 321-Alternate/N MAIN ST/NC 90.
- Go 9/10 of one mile. At second light Turn RIGHT onto ASHE AVE, NW.
- Turn at first RIGHT onto CHURCH ST, NW, and entrance to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care. The large antebellum white house is “Kirkwood”; once inside the gates, the driveway forks—public parking is available at the lower level (bear left) and on the upper level (bear right). Distance: approx. 20 miles (approx. 40 minutes).
- From UNION STREET, turn onto STERLING STREET.
- Turn RIGHT onto AVERY AVE/US 64/NC 18.
- Turn LEFT onto NC 18 BUS/US 64 (signs may identify it as LENOIR BLVD). Turn LEFT onto North BUS 18/Southwest Loop/Creekway Drive toward Downtown Lenoir.
- Go 2.5 miles, and at 4th light, turn RIGHT onto South 321-Alternate/N MAIN ST/NC 90.
- Go 9/10 of one mile; at second light, turn RIGHT onto ASHE AVE, NW.
- Turn at first RIGHT onto CHURCH ST, NW, and entrance to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care. The large antebellum white house is “Kirkwood”; once inside the gates, the driveway forks—public parking is available at the lower level (bear left) and on the upper level (bear right). Distance approximately 18 miles (28 minutes).
- Travel NORTH on US 321.
- At major crossroads, turn LEFT onto US 64/NC 18 BUS (this is also Harper Avenue).
- Stay straight in far right lane to go onto NC 18 BUS/NC 90/HARPER AVE.
- Go through 3 traffic lights, and at the 4th traffic light, turn slightly RIGHT onto NC 18 BUS S/NC 90 W/RIDGE ST NW (see fire department on left and post office on right); stay in far right lane and continue on Ridge Street
- Turn LEFT onto the first street, Ashe Avenue.
- Go through one stop light and turn RIGHT onto CHURCH STREET and entrance to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care. The large antebellum white house is “Kirkwood.” Once inside the gates, the driveway forks—public parking is available at the lower level (bear left) and on the upper level (bear right). Distance: approx. 20 miles (40 minutes).
To Robbins Center, 526 Pine Mountain Road, Hudson, NC
- Travel South on US 321.
- Turn left onto Pine Mountain Road (see Rite Aid, Walgreens on left)
- Travel 0.8 miles; entrance to the Jack and Shirley Robbins Center will be on your right.
- Travel North on NC 18/US 64.
- Turn right onto Southwest Blvd.
- Merge onto US 321 South
- Turn left onto Pine Mountain Road (see Rite Aid, Walgreens on left)
- Travel 0.8 miles; entrance to the Jack and Shirley Robbins Center will be on your right.
- Travel North on US 321
- Turn right onto Pine Mountain Road (see Walgreens on right and Wendy’s on left.)
Travel 0.8 miles; entrance to the Jack and Shirley Robbins Center will be on your right.