More than 30 years ago, there was no hospice care in Texarkana or any surrounding area; yet families were going through the challenges and pain of caring for loved ones at the end of life. From this adversity, two women stepped forward and worked with the Junior League of Texarkana to develop the first hospice.
“I am very proud of my association with the agency and I am so excited to have been a part of its beginning,” Susan Landreaux said. She and Lindy Lawrence were instrumental in researching the need and securing the seed money used to develop the nonprofit agency. Both ladies were and are passionate about the help hospice gives families because they had taken care of their mothers until their deaths without the coordinated help hospice brings.
Susan Satterfield Landreaux realized the responsibility of care giving and the need for hospice support as she and her family helped her mother battle Breast Cancer. Tula Satterfield was diagnosed in September, 1971, and after surgery went through a period of remission. But the disease returned and she pursued treatment in New York. Mrs.Landreaux, her father and sister, traveled back and forth between Texarkana and New York for 10 months, ensuring that her mother was never alone at the hospital. “She was confined to bed for six weeks before her death,” Mrs. Landreaux said. In August, 1973, her mother died at age 55. Mrs. Landreaux was only 23, had been married 18 months. She lost her father three-months later after a heart attack and experienced deep grief.
Mrs. Landreaux’s childhood friend began a similar journey with her mother about the same time. Lindy King Lawrence said her mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer before she was 40. After treatment, she experienced a few years of remission, but the cancer returned and Fritzie Holman King endured more treatment. Ultimately, their family doctor told Mrs. Lawrence that her mother was near the end of life. “Mom wanted to be at home,” Mrs. Lawrence said. “In December, 1980, she took her last treatment in Little Rock and it left her very weak. She wanted to go home and didn’t want to return to a hospital.” Mrs. King died at home in March of 1981 at age 57. Mrs. Lawrence was only 28 with 2 young children.
A result of these experiences was that these ladies, in their 20’s, passionately wanted a hospice for Texarkana. “With our mothers being sick, we knew hospice existed and Lindy’s sister-in-law was instrumental in starting the hospice in Midland, TX,” Mrs. Landreaux said. “My sister, Nancy Satterfield Woodman, also lived in Midland and talked about the hospice program.”
At this time, the friends were a part of the Community Research Committee for the Junior League of Texarkana. Mrs. Landreaux was the chairperson and Gail Cogbill and the late D.D. Schnipper also were on the Committee. Members of the Committee visited a hospice in Dallas, TX, and then Mrs. Lawrence and Mrs. Landreaux visited the hospice in Midland for a few days to gain a deeper understanding of the hospice concept. “That hospice gave us so many of their documents and processes. We determined there was definitely interest in the community and a need,” Mrs. Lawrence said. So, Mrs. Landreaux made a presentation to The League in the early 1980’s and was granted $50,000 seed money to develop Hospice of Texarkana, Inc.
Then, a Community Task Force was formed which was made up of a Presbyterian minister, acting as the Pastoral Care Representative; Jean Smith with the Visiting Nurse Association represented the healthcare/legal aspect; and Mrs. Landreaux and Mrs. Lawrence continued their commitment. This Task Force networked with physicians, ministers and others who were interested in forming an agency. From that group, the first Board of Directors was Designated.
“One hurdle was educating the community on the concept of hospice,” Mrs. Landreaux said. The idea of professional, in-home care for patients was new across the country. The Board hired an Executive Director and the V.N.A. gave the initial space in their building to open the nonprofit agency.
Mrs. Lawrence and Mrs. Landreaux served on the first Board and Mrs. Cogbill later served on the Board. In 1985, Mrs. Landreaux was awarded The Junior League Marguerite Whitmarsh Holman Award for her volunteer service in setting the groundwork for the agency. The ladies still affirm the work of Hospice.
“Everybody who has Hospice come in says they don’t know what they would have done without it,” Mrs. Lawrence said. “It (death) doesn’t have to be what we all think it has to be. Without the support of my family and friends it would have been horrible, but it wasn’t. Susan encouraged me to make every day count with mom. She told me once she was gone I would be thankful for the time together, and I did spend time with mom. I’m so glad I did. I want other families to have that experience.”
Mrs. Cogbill is proud to have been a part of the Community Research Committee and later Board member. “I believe Hospice is the lifesaver for survivors,” Mrs. Cogbill said in a phone interview. “When my stepmother died, they kept up with my dad. I can’t think of a negative thing to say about the organization.”
Today, Hospice of Texarkana/Hospice of Hope is well established and cares for people who live within 50 miles of Texarkana in Texas and Arkansas. Since 2000, the agency also has developed the Hospice of Texarkana Foundation and Palliative Care of Texarkana. The non-profit organization has cared for thousands of patients and families since 1985.