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by Helen Morris

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November is National Hospice Month.

Because hospice is a concept that is sometimes misunderstood, we will attempt to answer some questions and remove the mystery.

Hospice is a means of caring derived from medieval times, symbolizing a place where travelers, pilgrims, the sick, wounded and dying could find rest and comfort.

The modern hospice offers a wide ranging program of care to patients and families facing a life threatening illness. Hospice is, first of all, a concept of care, not a specific place of care.

Are you or someone you know seriously ill with an illness of which there is no cure, a caregiver in need of assistance to handle everyday care of someone seriously ill, or looking for the best care available provided by experts in the fields of symptom and pain management?

Hospice emphasizes palliative care rather than treatment that will cure. It places the emphasis on quality of life, rather than quantity of life. The dying are comforted, professional medical care is given, and sophisticated symptom relief is provided.

The patient and family are included in the care plan, and emotional, spiritual and practical support is given based on the patient’s wishes and the family’s needs. Trained volunteers can offer relief care for family members, as well as support for the patient.

Hospice confirms life and regards dying as a normal process. It neither hastens nor postpones death, but provides personalized services and caring surroundings so that patients and their families can have the necessary preparation for death that is in accordance to their beliefs.

Those involved in the process of dying have a variety of physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs. The nature of dying is so unique that the goal of the hospice team is to be sensitive and responsive to the special requirements of each individual and their family.

Hospice care is provided to patients who have a limited life expectancy. Hospice will accept any patient, regardless of their age or type of illness. These patients have made a decision to spend their last months at home or in a homelike setting.

Death is never easy--for the family or the patient. It has been said that birth and death are similar in some ways. If you could ask any unborn child if they would like to leave where they are and be born into a new world, they would all choose to stay safe and secure in the womb.

Birth and death have some similarities. They both are monumental occurrences that change your life forever. When we talk about birth, we would say something like: “There is a baby inside you. It will come out. The way it comes out is different for everyone.” We talk about all of the details, even the unexpected situations that might be faced. The family is better prepared to deal with the event, and a crisis, if one should occur.

It is time we start talking about death in the same way. We need to hear about pain control, agitation, delirium, hallucinations, and restlessness. That way, if one of those arises when you experience a death, you will be better prepared.

Now is the time to learn more about Hospice Care services, so you can make informed decisions regarding your choice of care. End of life care will be difficult to discuss, but it will be best for family members to be able to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern.

Hospice Care feels that life is for the living. It wants to help patients and families enjoy time together during end of life care.

Hospice Care services are provided regardless of financial situation. A patient will never be asked to sign over home or property in return for Hospice services.

Most insurances provide coverage. Medicare Part A covers hospice services at no cost to Medicare recipients.

Hospice Care services are available to anyone of any age, from infants to elderly, diagnosed with a life-limiting disease.

There is a misconception that a hospice patient cannot return to the hospital or see their family doctor. Patients are encouraged to continue to see their family doctor. They are encouraged to call the Hospice nurse to assist with admission or take care of the patient’s symptoms at home, according to their desires.

Services available can be discussed in detail by scheduling an informational visit from a Hospice Care professional in your home. Call 1-866-656-9790 or 853-2279.

Hospice Care workers include, left to right, regional clinical director Wendy Bound, RN; primary care coordinator Misty Rexroad, RN; Heather Minnich, RN; Eunice Coberly, RN; Angie McDonald, LPN; Amanda Hamrick, RN; and Connie Hardman, aide.


Roberta Kuhl (left), bereavement counselor, and Lisa Sims, social worker.


Julie Beckner, regional community outreach coordinator

Clubs, churches and other organizations can schedule an informational program by calling Julie Beckner, 853-2279 or 517-8868.

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