Our Story

The Sanctuary Story is an amazing one that began in August of 2000 on a medical mission trip to Mexico.

Click below to hear the story from the mouths of our founders!

The Sanctuary Story from Sanctuary Hospice on Vimeo.

When a dedicated group of North MS medical providers travelled to Mexico City on a medical mission trip in August 2000, seeds were planted into the minds of a group that would later become the fundraising effort and eventual establishment of the Sanctuary Hospice House!

The group on the mission trip had a vision they created out of a recognized need. In North Mississippi, there were 14 hospice agencies at the time but no agency had the financial resources to provide in-patient hospice services for those that couldn’t be cared for at home. This often left many patients with no other option than to find placement in a hospital or nursing home. The problem was that local hospitals could not offer the services that hospice patients needed. Nursing homes were ill-equipped to care for dying patients on a short-term basis and at the time, there was an average 18 month waiting period for acceptance into local nursing homes. 

With their extensive medical background, the group was all too aware of the circumstances that many in rural North Mississippi faced. They knew that many had the fear of dying alone, many knew that the closest medical support systems were many miles away and many just needed someone to be a compassion giver because there was no one at home to be that kind heart they needed during their last days on earth.

In December 2000, a group of retired medical physicians, nurses and community leaders came together with the community and began the many fundraising efforts that lead to the eventual opening of the non-profit we know as Sanctuary Hospice House in 2005. At Sanctuary Hospice, hospice appropriate patients are accepted regardless of age, sex, race, religion, diagnosis or ability to pay. 

When the Sanctuary Hospice House opened, it was chosen to be part of a National Medicare Hospice Demonstration Project – a research endeavor that would investigate the need of inpatient facilities in rural areas. The project was a 5 year study that exempted the hospice house from the requirements that normal in-patient hospices fall under. Normal Medicare hospice guidelines have an 80/20 rule in place for inpatient facilities mandating that 80% of the patient caseload must be provided outside of the facility in order for 20% to be provided for in the facility.

In late 2009 drawing near the end of the study, the local board of directors saw no option but to pursue the opening of a home hospice program so that the Sanctuary Hospice House could meet the Medicare mandate. The staggering waiting lists for beds at the hospice house proved that the need was great for inpatient hospice and it was a need that must be met in our rural area.

Reimbursement is provided for services rendered by Medicare, Medicaid and private pay insurance but these efforts fall very short of the continual care that a 24 hour facility like Sanctuary provides to patients and their families. There are MANY patients who cannot pay having no means for reimbursement and they are NEVER turned away from Sanctuary or turned over for payment. ALL patients are treated the same way - given love and compassion in a way that has often been compared to “angelic” and “heroic”. 

Each year, countless capital efforts are comprised by dedicated supporters and those who have been served by Sanctuary so that the good works may continue. Having now served more than 2500 patients and families through the Sanctuary Hospice House and more than 1000 through our home hospice offering, the apparent need is great! 

At Sanctuary Hospice we continue to be blessed by our community through fundraisers, through the honorariums and donations but the financial requirements are staggering. Our goal is to always provide the same love and compassion that we have become known for showing those we serve that when time is limited, life doesn’t have to be. We work with those we serve helping them to feel loved, to be pain free and to find the comfort they need to help them from the passage from this life to the next.