"Go out into the world and do good until there is too much good in the world."
Larry H. Miller

Joy in the Journey

(Published June 2019)

Companions for the Journey is more than just a tagline beneath the Caldwell Hospice logo. For over 37 years, it is precisely what they strive to be for patients and families facing the end of life. 

“Caldwell Hospice serves the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of terminally ill people and those they love. We recognize dying as a natural part of living, and we help patients live as pain-free and comfortably as possible,” says Caldwell Hospice chaplain/faith liaison Lance Perry, DMin. 

Paul prayed, in Colossians 1:11, “May you be filled with joy.” 

Each Caldwell Hospice patient has a complete care team that works together with them to develop a customized care plan that meets their specific needs and goals. “We want to get to know our patients and learn, not only how to provide the best care, but also what ‘brings them joy’,” continues Perry.

Dorothy Norris, a Caldwell Hospice patient being served in a local long-term care facility, continues to find joy in her journey!

Recollections from over 96 years bring a quiet smile to her face. Dorothy was born on the Cone Estate, where her father was employed at the time. She learned compassion and hospitality from her mother’s example. “My mama used to feed people as they traveled through the Coffey Gap community where we lived near Grandfather Mountain. They would eat and sit on our porch to rest before continuing on their journey,” she recalls. 

Dorothy mirrored that model of caring as she worked for years in Appalachian State University’s dietary services. “I would get up early and make biscuits to go with my homemade raspberry jelly to take to some of the students. All these years later, there are still some of them that come to visit me!”

Dorothy enjoys the visits with her care team which, in addition to Chaplain Lance Perry, include a physician, registered nurse, medical social worker, certified nursing assistant, and volunteer. 

“Lawd…we just have a real good time talking and visiting,” Norris says of her visits with Perry. Dorothy always enjoyed singing in the church choir, so when Perry asked if she wanted to sing some old hymns together, she was delighted. Accompanying with his guitar, the two sing old favorites like Amazing Grace and Victory in Jesus. “Sometimes people stop in the hallway to listen to us sing,” says Norris. 

Caldwell Hospice was founded in 1982 by neighbors taking care of neighbors, and since 2014 Caldwell Hospice Serving the High Country has had the privilege of providing palliative and hospice care to more than 900 patients and families in Ashe, Avery, and Watauga Counties. Most of those patients receive care wherever they call home—a private residence or long-term care facility. Caldwell Hospice’s High Country team members—including physician, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, medical social workers, chaplains, clinical and administrative support, volunteer coordinator and volunteers—all live and work in the High Country.

“Caldwell Hospice focuses on the quality of life for whatever quantity of life remains,” says Perry. Unfortunately many patients are referred to hospice services late in the disease process. Some are referred so late they cannot fully realize the full positive impact hospice is known to have on physical and emotional comfort and overall quality of life. Hospice care enhances a patient’s quality of life and provides support to families and caregivers. Almost all hospice families say they wish they had called hospice sooner.

Our expert team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to walk with you through care options that best fit your needs. When you call 828.754.0101 or 1.844.MY.JOURNEY, we will listen to you, understand your unique healthcare needs, and help navigate through care options based on your wishes. Our team is specially trained to design a customized care plan to meet the specific needs of people living with a serious or terminal illness.

Referrals for palliative medicine, hospice care or grief support may be made by the patient themselves, family members, friends, clergy, or physicians by calling 828.754.0101 or 1.844.MY.JOURNEY and speaking to someone in our referral department, or by completing an online referral request at Let us know who needs help. Don’t worry about having all the details. We’ll talk through things together.

Caldwell Hospice’s values—integrity, respect, acceptance, and excellence —are defined by the needs of the patients and families we serve. 

We are committed to providing compassionate, respectful, quality customized care to Ashe, Avery, Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Watauga, and Wilkes Counties regardless of one’s ability to pay.

As a not-for-profit, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care is your community-owned hospice care provider.

To discuss resources available to you and your family, call us at 828.754.0101 or 1.844.MY.JOURNEY, or visit

Enjoy a beautiful rendition of 'Amazing Grace' by Dorothy Norris and Chaplain Lance Perry.

Caldwell Hospice Nurse Practitioner Receives Doctorate

(Published November 2018)

Freda Clark Cowan, DNP, FNP-BC

Freda Clark Cowan of Lenoir, a nurse practitioner with Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, recently received her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Winston-Salem State University. The DNP program prepares nurses to become clinical leaders in healthcare and academic settings and to implement evidence-based healthcare practice.

Cowan, who has practiced nursing for more than 25 years, also holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University and a master’s from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A native of Lenoir, she has been working at Caldwell Hospice since 2017. She has previous experience as a nurse practitioner with Wake Forest University Health Sciences and did palliative care at Hospice and Palliative CareCenter of Winston-Salem.

Cowan’s area of expertise at Caldwell Hospice is palliative care, a medical specialty that focuses on optimizing quality of life and minimizing symptoms for those with serious, chronic illnesses such as heart disease, chronic pulmonary lung disease and other debilitating sickness. Her final project for the advanced degree was entitled, “Perceived Health Related Quality of Life in Heart Failure Patients Waiting for Advanced Medical Therapies.”

Unlike hospice care, palliative care services are available to people who are not terminally ill, but are facing a serious illness that interferes with their ability to cope with and enjoy daily life. Palliative medicine is appropriate for anyone, at any age, at any point in the illness, including those seeking curative treatment, and is often used along with other treatments and therapies to help patients manage difficulties that come with chronic illness. Palliative care services are provided in patients’ homes, in long-term-care facilities, or in hospitals.

To learn more about palliative care services at Caldwell Hospice call 828.754.0101, visit, or follow them on Facebook. Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care is a community-based, not-for-profit hospice and palliative care provider licensed by the State of NC, certified by Medicare, and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care.

Livingston Retires from Caldwell Hospice After Decades of Service

(Published October 2018)

Martha Livingston, CSW

"I  believe in our mission. I believe in what we do here. It only takes one experience to be hooked,” a retiring Martha Livingston, CSW, said as she reflected on her nearly 29 years with Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care earlier this summer. “There comes a time that medicine can’t ‘fix it’… and people need comfort care and peace.”

CEO Cathy Swanson says it is in those moments that Livingston, now former Director of Support Services, excelled. “If you want to see Martha at her best, witness her at the bedside of a dying patient.”

She also excelled as a mentor—training, teaching and helping young social workers learn what it means to be patient-centered in the hospice philosophy.

“Martha holds a special place in my heart as she was the very one who helped mold me into a medical social worker,” adds Kelly Mitchell, BSW. “Her words of wisdom and encouragement will ring in our ears long after her retirement.”
Livingston began her work at Caldwell Hospice as a part-time medical social worker in 1989. When the Director of Support Services position was created in 1994, she moved into that leadership role. During her tenure, the organization experienced tremendous growth. Under her leadership, a full complement of enhanced supportive services was added including community bereavement care, cardiac and pulmonary care programs for patients with heart/lung disease and most recently a dementia care program.

Livingston has been an especially strong advocate for the dementia care program that seeks to help caregivers understand and better meet the unique needs of patients with memory loss and other dementia-related symptoms.
“I worked closely with Martha in our dementia care program, especially The Virtual Dementia Tour.® Her passion and commitment to even the smallest details continually ‘raised the bar’ in the quality of what we did,” explains Lisa Caviness, BS, Public Relations and Marketing Specialist. “She genuinely cares about the people for whom we have the privilege to provide care, and it shows in everything she does.”

Teaching support staff the “Caldwell Hospice way of doing things” was another specialty of Livingston’s says Jenni Patterson, BSW, who remembers what it was like to be a new social worker just starting out.

“I appreciated Martha because I knew she was molding me and building me a solid foundation to understand and provide all of our patients with the same quality of care,” adds Patterson. “I learned that her compassion and love for hospice is real, and that is something we share, and I only hope that I can carry on all that she has taught me.”

While everyone at Caldwell Hospice wishes Livingston well on her new endeavors, they also know she is leaving them and the organization a strong legacy.

“The Board of Directors works closely with and gets to know the senior leadership team. The success of Caldwell Hospice is truly a team effort, and when you look at Martha Livingston’s career you see that she’s one of the columns holding up that success,” says Marc Carpenter, chairperson of the Caldwell Hospice board of directors.

Never one comfortable in the spotlight, Livingston told those gathered at a retirement event in her honor she appreciates the accolades, but could not have done it alone. “I have been successful here because I was surrounded by a great team. And, wow, what a great team!”



Caldwell Hospice Voted Best of the Best Hospice in Watauga County

Caldwell Hospice Serving the High Country has been voted Best of the Best Hospice in Watauga County via the 2018 Watauga Democrat newspaper survey. We are so excited to be recognized for the excellent hospice care we have provided to over 600 patients and families over the past four years. Our High Country Team has done an awesome job carrying on the long tradition of exceptional hospice care. "We are truly grateful to the High Country communities for the privilege to be companions for the journey during the time in their lives," said Cathy Swanson, CEO.



Hudson Names Caldwell Hospice Organization of the Year

(Published January 2018)

Front, l to r: CHPC Director of Nursing Grace Bradford, CHPC Board Member Barbara Jones, CHPC Board Member Linda Story, CHPC Dietary Lori Settlemyre, CHPC CEO Cathy Swanson, CHPC Board Member and Mayor of Hudson Janet Winkler; Back, l to r: CHPC Director of Support Services Martha Livingston, CHPC Board Member Mack Jarvis, CHPC Board Member David Lackey, and CHPC Dietary Tina Avery.

HUDSON—Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care was recently honored as 2017 Civic/Non-Profit Organization of the Year, a recognition that coincides with Caldwell Hospice’s own 35th anniversary of service in the community.

“Our hospice was founded in 1982, and now 35 years later, we are still growing and striving to provide the best hospice care possible to those in our community,” said Hospice CEO Cathy Swanson. “This award from Hudson Community Development Association is a wonderful recognition of our work, and we are so grateful to Hudson and the entire Caldwell community for its support now and over the decades.”

Caldwell Hospice pioneered the state’s first inpatient unit–the Stevens Patient Care Unit at Kirkwood in Lenoir. The Forlines Patient Care Unit, a second inpatient unit, was opened at the Jack and Shirley Robbins Center in Hudson in 2010. The Robbins Center also includes the McCreary Family Professional Center which houses much of the Hospice staff and features rooms for trainings and meetings. Today, with an expanded service district that reaches into the High Country (Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties), Caldwell Hospice provides care in the home, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, and its two patient care units, which serve acute, respite and residential needs.

In its 35-year history, Caldwell Hospice has served more than 11,000 patients and thousands more family members. Annually, about 800 patients receive care through Caldwell Hospice each year.

“Just like at the start, we remain committed to providing quality, compassion and patient-centered care,” said Swanson. “We do not take that responsibility lightly, and we recognize it for the gift it is.”

Hospice seeks to care for the whole person—body, mind and spirit. Its interdisciplinary team includes physicians, nurses, certified nursing assistants, medical social workers, volunteers and spiritual support, if requested. The overall goal is to assure patients and families know they are not alone as they face the end of life and to make that journey as free of pain and symptoms related to their illness as possible so that life, however long it is, can be embraced and meaningful.

Nationally and throughout the state, many communities are losing their nonprofit hospices to for-profit entities. Generous community support has allowed Caldwell Hospice to not only survive but thrive in today’s increasing competitive healthcare marketplace.

In addition to standard hospice services, Caldwell Hospice offers patients and families a number of enhanced programs and services. These include a non-hospice palliative care program, cardiac and pulmonary care at home for patients with heart/lung disease; a dementia care program; and community bereavement services, which are open to anyone who needs them, not just hospice patients and families.

“The generosity and support of the community makes all this possible,” said Swanson, “and we want the community to know how much we value them. We are truly grateful.”

To learn more about Caldwell Hospice, its services, programs or volunteer opportunities, call 828.754.0101, or visit or Facebook.



Paralee Arney Celebrates 100 Years

(Published December 2016)

CHPC staff members escort Paralee Arney to her 100th birthday party. 

Hospice is about living…making the most of each moment of life available. Hospice care, by expertly managing symptoms, helps patients stay comfortable and alert so they can celebrate quality moments with the ones they love—and there was a lot to celebrate on November 3 when Caldwell Hospice patient Paralee Arney turned 100 years old!

Caldwell Hospice hosted the party at their Kirkwood facility in Lenoir for family, friends, staff and volunteers to extend their congratulations to the latest centenarian and to celebrate the joy life has to offer at all its stages.
Mrs. Arney, described as a “Little Debbie fanatic” by her niece Pam Lackey, received over 100 brightly wrapped boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes collected by all birthday well-wishers. It was a fitting present for a woman who, even at the century mark, likes her sweets.

“Going above and beyond has always been a hallmark of our hospice and the work we do,” said Caldwell Hospice CEO Cathy Swanson, “and this birthday celebration is an example of that. We want to care for the physical needs of our patients, but also want to help them and their families focus on making each day the best it can be. It was rewarding for our staff and volunteers to be a part of this day honoring Mrs. Arney.”

For more information about Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care call 828.754.0101, visit, or follow on facebook.



Caldwell Hospice Celebrates Milestone of Serving Over 10,000 Patients

(Published December 2016)

Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care (CHPC) recently marked a milestone in its service to the community, having served more than 10,000 patients…10,102 as of the end of November 2016, to be exact!

“For over 34 years, we have helped patients and families face life’s most difficult journey—the end of life. To each patient and family who has allowed us the privilege to be companions for the journey, we are truly grateful,” said Hospice CEO Cathy Swanson.

CHPC began as a local, not-for-profit, community-based hospice provider and has remained so through the decades. Despite changes in the healthcare market that have resulted in more for-profit hospices and a move away from community-driven work, CHPC is committed to staying true to its original mission of serving anyone who needs and desires hospice care in the communities they serve.

As the most experienced and only local, not-for-profit hospice in this community, CHPC has proven to be an expert in providing respectful, compassionate end-of-life care that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and those who love them.

Through the years, the community has provided tremendous support to CHPC from its start in borrowed space at First Presbyterian Church of Lenoir to today as it serves hundreds of patients each year through a home care program and with two inpatient units—the Stevens Patient Care Unit at Kirkwood in Lenoir, the first in North Carolina, and the Forlines Patient Care Unit at the Robbins Center in Hudson.

“It is important for the community to know we could not do what we do without them. In 2015-16, your contributions helped CHPC provide $730,339 in care to those in our community who needed end-of-life care and services but had no way to pay for them,” says Swanson. “We are humbled and honored by your giving.”

And, it’s not just financial giving that makes it possible for Hospice to continue to work. While monetary and in-kind donations are important and needed, CHPC also relies on the giving of time and talent to help others. In 2015-16, volunteers gave almost 12,500 hours of service to CHPC.

“Together with our community, we do hospice the way it was meant to be done—one patient at a time, one family at a time in the honored tradition of neighbors helping neighbors,” said Swanson, “and it is humbling and amazing that focus on one patient at a time has now added up to more than 10,000 patients and families. We hope to be here for 10,000 more—serving each family with the individualized focus and attention they deserve.”

Donations to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care are tax deductible, as allowable by law. For more information call 828.754.0101, or visit or Facebook.



Changes on Caldwell Hospice Board of Directors 

(Published December 2016)

Sponenberg Delk

LENOIR—Retired banker James Sponenberg of Lenoir, former president and CEO of Parkway Bank/CertusBank, is the newest member of the Board of Directors for Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care (CHPC).

“We are honored to have Jim once again join our board,” said Marc Carpenter, CHPC Board of Directors chairperson. “Jim knows and appreciates our organization, and we look forward to many years of service together.”

In addition to previously serving a term on the Hospice board of directors, Sponenberg is a long-term member of the Board of Directors for the Caldwell Hospice Foundation, Inc., having served since its inception in 1994.

Sponenberg recalls he was new in town more than two decades ago when the late John Forlines, a long-time champion of hospice care in Caldwell County and board member/treasurer of the board until his death, introduced him to the work of Caldwell Hospice.

In addition to serving with the Foundation and later on the CHPC board, Sponenberg notes he “felt the value of Caldwell Hospice in a personal way when my father spent the last few days of his life in the care of the wonderful people at Kirkwood.”

Sponenberg brings a wide range of experience and expertise to the CHPC board through both his professional and personal endeavors. Through the years he has been active in a number of non-profits and other efforts aimed at enhancing the quality of life in all facets of the community. He has served on the boards of Caldwell County Education Foundation, Inc., Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation, Caldwell 20/20, and the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce.

Long time board member and Lenoir attorney Joseph C. Delk, III leaves the CHPC board after more than three decades and calls his work with Caldwell Hospice “one of the most rewarding and satisfying” community involvements in his life.

“We are grateful to Joe Delk for all his years of service and dedication to CHPC and to our board,” said Carpenter. “He has been with us through so much change and growth, and it is the commitment of dedicated people like him that has allowed CHPC to serve the community as it has all these years.”

Delk recalls he was recruited to serve on the board by long-time Caldwell Hospice advocate and Board Chair Emeritus Parker Williamson.

“Parker asked me to serve because the Board needed an attorney,” recalls Delk. Originally from Asheboro, Delk moved to Lenoir from Raleigh and went to church with Williamson.

In the beginning, Delk says he knew nothing about hospice care, but soon learned and helped shepherd the organization from its small beginnings in a Sunday school room at First Presbyterian Church through the development of a robust home care program, the building of the Stevens Patient Care Unit, the state’s first in-patient unit, and later the construction of the Forlines Patient Care Unit and the McCreary Family Professional Center located at the Jack and Shirley Robbins Center in Hudson.

Delk has also served as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church; secretary and vice chair of South Mountain Children’s Home Board of Directors; chair of the Salvation Army Board of Directors; president of Hibriten High School PTO; president and founder of the Hibriten Foundation; president of United Way of Caldwell County; and board member for the Caldwell Arts Council.

Caldwell Hospice has provided end-of-life care for Caldwell and surrounding counties since 1982. While approximately 95% of its patients receive care in their homes or in long-term-care facilities, the organization also provides care for its patients in hospitals and in its inpatient facilities: the six-bed Stevens Patient Care Unit at Kirkwood in Lenoir and the 12-bed Forlines Patient Care Unit at the Jack and Shirley Robbins Center in Hudson. The organization also provides consultative palliative care services for patients with chronic conditions that inhibit their day-to-day lives, as well as bereavement services to families following the patient’s death and through programs, education, support groups, etc., to anyone in the community who has lost a loved one to death.

Caldwell Hospice, the most experienced and only local, not-for-profit hospice care provider serving our area, is committed to providing quality, respectful end-of-life care to our community. For more information about Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, call 828.754.0101 or visit or Facebook.



Hospice Volunteer Reba Barlow Receives Award

(Published October 2016)

LENOIR—Reba Barlow of Lenoir, a long-time volunteer with Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, has received the 2016 Judith Lund Person Hospice Volunteer Award through The Carolinas Center for Hospice & End-of-Life Care.

The award is presented annually to one hospice volunteer from North and South Carolina whose service exemplifies exceptional service and commitment to hospice and the patients it serves.

Barlow received the award at The Carolinas Center’s 40th Annual Conference in Charlotte.

“I have a hard time saying ‘no’,” Barlow jokingly once remarked to a group of Caldwell Hospice volunteer trainees while sharing the wisdom she’s gained from her 23 years of volunteer service. “But, I get more than I give from working with my patients.”

With an attitude of service and compassion, Barlow has spent nearly 700 hours at Hospice in just the last five years providing companionship and caregiver relief, offering 11th Hour support, helping with gardening projects, lending a hand at special events and health fairs, facilitating the Virtual Dementia Tour® within the community, and assisting with countless other projects.

As a volunteer Barlow says, “I go in, I leave my problems at the door, and I focus on the patient and what they need.”

When asked about her work some time back, Barlow said, “I work with patients and families who are living until they die. I help make them as comfortable as I can by just being there and listening to them. Just being there is all that it takes.”

The daughter of a recent patient Reba served said, “Reba understood when Mom was ill.  She knew how to talk to her and always made her laugh and smile.”

As a volunteer, Barlow also likes learning new things. She was one of the first Caldwell Hospice 11th Hour volunteers trained in October of 1998. She also underwent special training to help facilitate the Virtual Dementia Tour® (VDT), a scientifically proven method of building a greater understanding of dementia through the use of patented sensory tools and instruction. Caldwell Hospice has offered the VDT in the community several times a year since the summer of 2014, and Barlow has helped at every presentation.

Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Brittany Bonn says, “Reba has a calm, but energetic demeanor.  She is the kind of person who’s never met a stranger; she approaches new assignments with enthusiasm and positivity. You can tell that she devotes all her attention to her patients during their visits.”

The Carolinas Center is a two-state association representing more than 100 hospices in North and South Carolina. Cathy Swanson, CEO of Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, is chairperson for The Carolinas Center board of directors.



Retired Caldwell Hospice Board Members Honored

(Published June 2015)

LENOIR—Since the beginning, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care has been driven by a board of directors who believe in what Caldwell Hospice can do, work to make the dream come true, and follow a commitment to the organization’s mission statement. Each board member, past and present, has given their time and expertise to build a strong foundation and guide the organization into the future.

To honor their service as members of the Caldwell Hospice Board of Directors, local artist Pete Lupo has created a piece of art that recognizes each retired board member and their years of service. The artwork is a wood carving that showcases the front of Kirkwood, Caldwell Hospice’s home in Lenoir. Carved by hand, each intricate detail symbolizes the strength, commitment and passion of the organization’s board members.

“We are extremely grateful to each of our board members, past and present,” said Caldwell Hospice CEO Cathy Swanson. “The artwork serves as a permanent reminder of the gifts  they have shared and will be treasured for many years to come.”

“When Hospice first approached me about this project in late 2012, they had in mind a couple of different designs,” said Lupo. “I took the ideas and started thinking about what I could do through my work that would encompass their design and also be meaningful and pleasing to the visitors at Hospice. … I thought what had first drawn me to attempt this project, and it was the house itself. I fell in love with the house the first time I walked in. The old floors, windows and doors reminded me of the houses my grandparents lived in when I was growing up. The house has character, history and soul.”

Speaking of his choice of wood for the art, Lupo said, “I felt it gave a strong, solid presence to the piece just as the house is made of wood, and it, too, has a strong, solid presence.”

It took six months to complete the carving and assembly of the piece and another two weeks to paint it.

The artwork, which includes the names of all retired board members, is displayed in the family living room at Kirkwood. Caldwell Hospice invites the public to drop by to see this work in person to appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of this special piece of art.

Lupo’s home and studio overlook the scenic Yadkin Valley in Caldwell County, North Carolina. To see more of his work, visit

To learn more about Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, call 828.754.0101 or visit