A group of concerned citizens and volunteers gathered to discuss a possible “workshop” for the community in dealing with death and dying, and from that group emerged the idea for starting a “hospice” for Ponca City. Rev. Bruce & Ila Zellmer, ministers at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Ponca City, along with Claudia Barnes, RN, BSN, CHPN began to host meetings and went to Bartlesville, OK for training from the first hospice created in Oklahoma, Jane Phillips Hospice. The year was 1981. In April of 1982, a committee was organized, a “working” Board was elected, a “Training Program” was initiated, and Hospice of Ponca City (HoPC), Inc. became an organization. The first and second patients were admitted at the end of 1982 and died in early 1983. The hospice organization was certified as a state of Oklahoma hospice organization with the Oklahoma State Department of Health in 1982.
Remembrances of Rose Marie Boggus, volunteer: By 1986 there was a Board of Directors, Director of Nursing Services, Claudia Barnes, and coordinator, Lois Willoughby. Volunteers were Nadine Laughlin, Rose Marie Boggus and others. HoPC was located at 2128 N. 14th, the Plaza building. The office was a rather small room at the end of the hall.
The next location was in the Royalty Building across from the Post Office on Grand Ave. Christi Beebe, wife of pastor of Prince of Peace church, was director for about 2 years. She was followed by another director who stayed on a short while before her husband was transferred to Houston. The next director was one who initiated a fundraising project of making and selling crafts.
Hospice moved for a time into two rooms in the Chamber of Commerce Building. Melody Lahann was Director and the use of computers was introduced.
In 1993, Hospice of Ponca City became Medicare certified, and was able to offer more to patients and families, including medications to cover the primary illness, disposable items, and nutritional supplements, along with a “full-time” nurse and executive director.
In 2004, Hospice of Ponca City, Inc. amended its name and became Hospice of North Central Oklahoma, Inc. (Hospice of NCO) to better delineate the service area, which is an approximate radius of fifty miles from Ponca City.
In 2009, Hospice of North Central Oklahoma, Inc. named its community bereavement program the “Higher Ground Center for Loss & Education”.
November 2011, Hospice of North Central Oklahoma, Inc. purchased the Ponca City Assembly of God church for approximately $1 million.
In the spring of 2012 the “Gift of Caring” capital campaign was initiated with a goal of $2.7 million for the renovation of the building. Carl and Carolyn Renfro gave the leading gift of $500,000. To honor this family, the “Higher Ground Center for Loss & Education” was renamed the “Carolyn Renfro Event Center”. The center will not only be used for Bereavement programs but as a community event center.. The Community Bereavement Program was renamed “Transitions”.
In 2013, services provided but not required by Medicare included Massage Therapy, Pet Therapy, Pet Peace of Mind program, Community Bereavement, We Honor Veterans, loan of medical equipment, speaker’s bureau and educational programs to the medical and community at-large, all at no cost.
Expanded Transitions services in 2013 to include “Raindrops”, a grief and loss program designed to assist those who have experienced infant loss and the initiation of the Grief and Loss camp for children.
2013 saw the addition of a part-time Marketing Director and the beginning of the building renovation.
Demolition of the Assembly of God church began October 2013 and Hospice of North Central Oklahoma moved into their new home on November 16, 2014.
The first event in the Carolyn Renfro Event Center was the Annual Christmas Candle-lighting service on December 13, 2014.
Ribbon cutting was held on December 9, 2014. The open house and dedication are planned for April 23, 2015.