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New Addition to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Helps Families Coping with Life-limiting Illnesses

Jan 10, 2018 06:20PM ● By Linda Ditch
This past December, the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative and Hospice Care opened at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Thirty years in the making, this center hopes to fill a need for people and their families coping with a life-limiting illness.

Dorothy Behlen Heinrichs, who oversees fundraising for the center, told us, “The center has only been open for two and a half weeks, but the facility is already working as envisioned. Interest and opportunities for volunteers are running high.”

While you may be familiar with hospice care, which cares for people at the end of their lives, palliative care expands those services to include people at any stage of a life-limiting illness. This type of care includes treating symptoms and discomfort, such as pain, nausea, and fatigue, brought on by the disease or the side effects of medical treatments. It also helps people and their families cope with the stress that accompanies such diagnoses. The goal is to improve the quality of life for the patient and his or her loved ones.

“I’ve spent the last two years raising philanthropic support for this center,” Dorothy says. “Each one of us knows someone who is touched by serious illness or who are facing loss. We can care for those with life-limiting illnesses better and care for their families better. I am deeply grateful to have been a small part of launching this new center.”

The center offers large patient rooms designed to provide a homelike atmosphere, including a private outside deck accessible even to those who cannot leave their beds. The rooms are cozy while being spacious enough for family and friends to visit. Also available are a family kitchen and dining room, along with other gathering spaces throughout the center.
The White Mountains Room with its large fireplace is great for visitors. There is also an activity room for community programmings such as classes, workshops, performances, and support groups. A chapel and outdoor gardens provide peaceful areas should someone need quiet time.

While the center is now open and operating, Dorothy notes, “As for philanthropic support, the need will be ongoing. Future support will help provide programming to assist caregivers as they learn how to handle the challenges of caring for someone who is nearing the end of life.”

To learn more about the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative and Hospice Care, or to make a donation, visit

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