This director helps provide comfort and dignity to end-of-life patients and their families
By Hannah Massen
When people ask James Dismond, director of business development at Hospice Care of the Lowcountry, how he feels about working in hospice, his answer is simple – and always the same. “Hospice care isn’t about dying, it’s about living,” he says, echoing one of Hospice Care of the Lowcountry’s core values. Helping end-of-life patients and their families live every day to the fullest is something that Dismond not only feels passionate about but considers a true privilege as he helps so many people throughout the Lowcountry navigate difficult times with the comfort, honor and dignity that the organization has been providing here for nearly 40 years.
“My mother always says that very few people in life get to align their passion and soul with their employment,” Dismond said. “I am thankful to be one of the lucky ones who gets to wake up every day and do my passion.”
Founded in 1982 Hospice Care of the Lowcountry (HCL) was one of the first hospice organizations to open on Hilton Head Island. Since then, its staff members have served as guiding lights for hundreds of Lowcountry families as they embark on some of their most vulnerable journeys. The center provides hospice and palliative services, regardless of each family’s financial circumstance, while ensuring that the staff-to-patient ratio allows for the highest-quality care. In addition, thanks to its fundraising efforts, HCL delivers other comforting services and delivers more to its patients at no cost, including aromatherapy, massage therapy, music therapy and a special “Hos-pets” pet-therapy program. Helping patients honor final wishes can often mean the world to both patients and their families.
While Dismond’s job focuses on financing, creating strategic partnerships with community stakeholders and implementing new patient and staff programs, he is quick to point out that the best part of his job is helping families fulfill their loved one’s final wishes.
“Our team has helped host a wedding for a couple who wanted to say “I do” before it was too late, brought a Latin-American patient and his family together for the first time in a decade so they could get to say goodbye, and transported a veteran patient to a military museum to donate his war memorabilia and tell his war stories one last time,” Dismond notes. “I truly love all aspects of my job at Hospice Care of the Lowcountry; however, when I get to help make final wishes happen for patients and their families, it truly warms my heart.”
Dismond points to one final wish that HCL made possible that highlights what Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is all about. In the summer of 2021 Dismond was part of a care team that helped a daughter take her father to the beach for the last time.
“Those moments on the beach will forever be a memory that I share because it changed my perception towards death,” Dismond said. “Towards the end of life, the smallest of things become so important to us, such as holding your daughter’s hand as the waves crash on the shore and the salty air blows your hair.”
Dismond says it’s “an honor and a blessing” to be a part of the HCL team, noting that it was a long road to get there. Dismond was adopted out of a potentially dangerous situation, and while he loved and was loved by his adoptive family, he always longed for a sense of “home.” Although he “struggled tremendously” growing up while trying to find himself, the first-generation college student was accepted to Marshall University, where he studied psychology and sociology.
Driven by his passion for community service, Dismond has worked for local, national and international nonprofits his entire career, including the Community Action Agency and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“When you’ve had to beat the odds your whole life, it gives you a new perspective on helping others,” Dismond said. “I couldn’t have dreamt all that I have now.”
When Dismond and his partner, Shawn, moved to the Lowcountry six years ago, he finally experienced the sense of “home” he had been seeking all his life. They recently built a home in Beaufort County where they live with their son, Byron, and three golden doodles. When he’s not at work, Dismond loves getting out in nature with his family, especially kayaking down the May River.
“People say I am always on the go, doing a project or activity,” Dismond says. “Life is so short, I just want to try it all.”
Whether it’s his passion for the great outdoors or his overriding passion for helping others in the community where he lives, Dismond is committed not only to living life to its fullest but helping others make every day count, as well.
Three tips for being successful in business
1. Continuously educate yourself. “Know your business well,” Dismond said, stressing the importance of studying – and studying more. “Be ready for adaptation and current changes in your domain so that you can stay on top of your game.”
2. Build a winning team/network. “Cultivate relationships through networking and find individuals who represent your business the same way you do,” he said. “Select individuals who push you and strive for the same success you want.”
3. Fail forward. “Sometimes we try and plan for any and everything, but don’t get so caught up in planning that you never put words into actions,” Dismond said. “Get out and try it, know that mistakes will happen. Take the time to adapt, and then try again.”