By Sarah Boerkircher


For 40 years, Hospice of the Bluegrass has cared for thousands of families in local communities, but in recent years, they felt that they were outgrowing their name.

“Many of you know us as the Hospice of the Bluegrass and nothing has changed, other than our name and the fact that we are now able to provide more expert care—long before life’s final months,” said Bluegrass Care Navigators’ President and CEO Liz Fowler.

While a name change has taken place, the level of care has never wavered. In fact, Hospice of the Bluegrass, now Bluegrass Care Navigators, has been a national leader for 40 years in providing expert and compassionate care for patients and families.

“We changed our name to Bluegrass Care Navigators to better reflect how we guide and provide care to more people, in more ways, at earlier stages of serious illness. Yet, we’re still the same great provider with the same great people,” said Liz. “We still have the same compassion and commitment that has always defined Hospice of the Bluegrass. With our new name, we are better reflecting our growing range of services, which includes Bluegrass Hospice Care, Bluegrass Extra Care, Bluegrass Palliative Care and more.”

In Lexington, Ky., in 1978, a small group of healthcare professionals and volunteers formed Community Hospice of Lexington, which later became Hospice of the Bluegrass. The first CEO, Gretchen Brown, retired in 2014, but she provided a tremendous amount of leadership nationwide and has advocated for hospice care for more than 32 years.

The face of healthcare has changed over the past four decades and Bluegrass Care Navigators has grown into a major healthcare provider for the seriously ill in the state of Kentucky.

“Gretchen and Community Hospice of Lexington were sensitive to the needs of the terminally ill and recognized that hospitals and nursing homes allowed little dignity and intimacy to those who had a short time to live,” Liz said. “Bluegrass Care Navigators will continue to support the mission of helping a growing number of seriously ill patients and their families during their journey.”

Helping patients and families live their fullest life

As Liz explained, Bluegrass Care Navigators continues to evolve because they are always listening for unmet needs and how they can better utilize their expertise and compassionate care to serve patients and their families.

“As for where our care is provided, it depends on the service,” she says. “A significant portion of our care is provided wherever a patient calls home–a residence, nursing facility or assisted living. Some of our services, like palliative care for example, are provided in partner facilities such as hospitals, clinics and nursing facilities. We serve the patient and family where they are because our goal is to create a lot of memories up to the very end.”

For those who are not in need of hospice, yet are struggling with a serious illness and the accompanying needs, the palliative and other in-home services continue to grow. While there is often confusion regarding hospice and palliative care, it helps to know that many patients who receive palliative care are not terminally ill, and palliative care is for anyone, at any age and any stage of serious illness.

“Not all patients who receive palliative care will go to hospice, but all patients in hospice will receive palliative care,” Liz said. “Many people believe hospice is just for the final days of life, but hospice is so much more. We can help patients and their family for months. We often are told, ‘I wish we’d called you sooner.’”

40 years of Care

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Bluegrass Care Navigators has planned a variety of events across the community to recognize 40 years of care and to honor those who have helped them along way.

Gladys Dotson, the first hospice patient in Kentucky, was admitted into their care on March 18, 1978. Bluegrass Care Navigator is planning a 40th Anniversary Online Giving Day on March 16, 2018, with a goal of raising $40,000 to continue to help care for future hospice patients and their families.

Additionally, on Sunday, July 22, 2018, Bluegrass Care Navigators will be the featured charity at the Lexington Legends game, giving them a public chance to celebrate this milestone year.

“Thanks to community support, we can go above and beyond in so many different ways,” said Liz. “We are one of the best serious illness programs in the country because we truly want to help people to live their fullest life. Anyone can call us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 855-492-0812. Our help is always available.”

How to Make a Donation

Through the generosity of the community, Bluegrass Care Navigators is able to provide the highest quality hospice and serious illness care in the nation. All donations made to Bluegrass Care Navigators stay in Kentucky and can be designated for the care and services that they provide in specific counties. Donations can be made by visiting or calling 855-492-0812 and asking for the Philanthropy Department. 

For Bluegrass Care Navigators, it’s all about the care and services they can provide to patients and families, and to community and professional partners. In 2016, through all of the programs and services provided, Bluegrass Care Navigators served more than 13,000 patients and their families. They estimate they closed 2017 by serving close to 15,000 across Kentucky. Currently, services and programs provided include:

• Bluegrass Extra Care: A private pay, personalized service for clients in their home, nursing home or assisted living facility. Services include homemakers, certified nursing assistants, sitters and skilled nursing.

• Bluegrass Home Primary Care: A comprehensive, in-home expert medical care service for chronic medical conditions for those who are “home limited.”

• Bluegrass Adult Day Care: An engaging program for adults whose physical or intellectual competency has been compromised by age or illness.

• Bluegrass Transitional Care: A program provided by the hospital or insurance provider that helps patients after a hospitalization transition to care at home.

• Bluegrass Palliative Care: A physician consult service providing specialized medical care focused on relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness to improve quality of life.

• Bluegrass Hospice Care: A program providing expert care for the final months of life, including medical, nursing, emotional and spiritual support for the patient and family.

• Bluegrass Grief Care: A unique counseling service for support and guidance through anticipatory grief and bereavement, a service provided to our hospice patients and the community through children’s grief camps, support groups and outreach to businesses and area schools.