EverHeart Hospice celebrates 40 years

GREENVILLE — EverHeart Hospice, formerly State of the Heart Care, is celebrating 40 years of caring for patients and families in the community.

In 1980, a small group of community members and healthcare professionals met to discuss the idea of starting a hospice program to serve patients facing a life-limiting illness. At the time, there was no such program available for local communities in a rural setting. This idea became a reality in January of 1981, with the official start of Hospice of Darke County, Inc. A total of 27 patients received care during that first year. Forty years later, EverHeart has now had the privilege of serving over 16,800 patients during their end-of-life journey.

Mary Sue Rosenberger was the first person employed by Hospice of Darke County Inc., serving as chief executive officer from 1981 to 1985.

In a previous interview celebrating the 20th Anniversary, Rosenberger shared her thoughts on bringing a hospice program to the area, stating she knew the impact of the need for hospice care in the community was evident “when I visited my first patient. I knew then that this was an essential, meaningful service.”

Rosenberger has since passed away in 2020, but her legacy as one of the founding members and her passion for hospice care remains today.

Many aspects of the agency have grown and evolved over the years, from expanding office space from only two rooms in the basement of the Brethren Retirement Community in 1981, to currently having three offices located in Greenville and Coldwater; Winchester, Indiana; and the EverHeart Hospice Care Center located on the fourth floor of Wayne HealthCare. Even through this growth, it is safe to say that the agency’s mission, vision, and values have always remained deeply rooted and consistent. EverHeart is proud of our focus on their core values: Patient and Family-Centered, Compassion, Excellence, Integrity, and Community-Focused.

Over the years, when reflecting on her involvement with EverHeart Hospice since the very beginning, Joy Marchal, who served as the first Board President, second chief executive officer for 12 years, and former volunteer after her retirement, previously shared, “There were mountains to climb and great challenges, but through it all we were able to make a significant difference for patients and families.”

With the continuous hard work and dedication of our staff, volunteers, Board members, and generous community support, today EverHeart is proud to serve a total of 12 counties in west-central Ohio and east-central Indiana, including Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby, Mercer, Auglaize, Allen, Van Wert, and Paulding counties in Ohio and Jay, Randolph and Wayne counties in Indiana.

Kristi Strawser, current Chief Executive Officer since 2018, has been a part of the agency for many years serving in various roles prior including RN, Hospice Care Center manager, and Chief Clinical officer.

“We are so very thankful for those who laid the foundation and advocated 40 years ago to introduce the concept of Hospice and the value of this service to our communities. We are honored to be continuing the mission of the organization. Our mission has been our focus for the past four decades, and we will continue ensuring that mission is our focus for decades to come,” Strawser said.

The community is invited to join EverHeart over the next 40 days as they reflect on the past 40 years, sharing the history and stories behind the roots of their organization. Anyone can follow along on their website, www.everhearthospice.org, their Facebook page, and local media outlets.

EverHeart is proud to be a local non-profit hospice.

When asked what the next 40 years may look like, Strawser shared, “We will continue ensuring our communities have access to exceptional hospice care to ensure those who are at this crucial part of their journey can experience quality of life and comfort. We will honor their life with trusted care.”