Q&A with Trish Gilles, CEO of Grahamstown Hospice

Our #HospiceVisits drive continues this week, with a closer look at Grahamstown Hospice. We had the privilege of catching up with Trish Gilles who is the CEO of Grahamstown Hospice.

What did you do before you became CEO of Grahamstown Hospice?

Before I became CEO, I worked at the primary health care clinics (1994). It was there where I got exposed to the community and nursing which I found quite enjoyable. I then left the Eastern Cape and went back to Gauteng where I had my own business and that I did for 8 years, however my life then changed path and I ended up back in the Eastern Cape.

It was then when I started to work for hospice.

What was the experience like working for hospice?

I found it really humbling and because I worked in an office/corporate environment it was a good change working for an NGO, not being office bound and being able to really go deep into communities to see the impact of your work. My first position at Grahamstown hospice was clinical manager/patient care manager, and I must say that was very eye opening probably because of the fact that I had been away from nursing for 8 years, a lot had changed and funding was a major issue.

What is the importance of hospice and the impact that they are making?

Personally, there is a huge need for NGO’s like hospice and more importantly the need for what we do. We fulfil the gaps in communities where Government cannot get to and having had nursed for quite a few years I understand that curative care is the corner stone of medicine and all doctors aspire to curing patients, but having worked here at Grahamstown hospice with terminally ill patients I realise that it is often to the patients detriment that doctors continue to cure right until the end.

The other difficult part is the effect of pain control and there are a number of doctors who don’t talk about end of life care and pain control, where as we do and we know how to effectively implement it and I feel that is where the reward comes in for hospice care and especially the impact that we make.

What difference does the community make towards Grahamstown Hospice?

They make a huge difference and we are extremely lucky that we have such a supportive community that recognize the amazing work that we do. We get quite a lot of support from the events we hold and we are extremely grateful for that.

On average how many patients do you care for?

We care for about 325-350 patients a month, and on average get about 20 new admissions for the month.

What have been the real rewards for you personally as CEO of Grahamstown Hospice?

The rewards have been the way in which we always continued our work and the impact we make in communities even through setbacks that our hospice has faced. Our core focus is our passion and that continues to keep us going. Knowing that we can make a patient smile, feel better and be grateful for life is the real reward for me and I would not want it any other way.

Have a closer look into the work of Grahamstown Hospice here.