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by Helen Morris


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(This is a continuing series of articles explaining Hospice care services.)

Hospice Care is not the same in all communities. Medicare requires certified hospices to provide a basic level of care, but the quality and quantity may vary from one hospice to another. Ask your health care provider or call a hospice serving your area and ask questions about care of the patient.

The typical treatment of a patient on Hospice services is six months or less. If a patient’s condition improves, the patient can be discharged from Hospice.

If a patient chooses to pursue curative treatment, the patient can discontinue services at any time. If the treatment is not improving the patient’s condition, the patient can return to the Hospice program.

When entering Hospice Care, a team of employees coordinate and arrange the admission of the patient into the program and provide end-of-life care services where the patient resides. They want to make home care as convenient, safe and clean as possible.

They will do an individual care plan that will address the amount of care a patient will need. The team makes regular visits and are accessible to answer medical questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A team that includes the patient’s physician, Hospice Care medical director, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers will provide assistance as needed or requested by the patient. They also provide supplies, medication, and equipment related to the terminal illness.

Hospice does not speed up or postpone dying. Doctors and nurses lend support and care during the process of childbirth; likewise, hospice provides its support and knowledge during the end-of-life process.

Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real as physical pain. It is up to date on the latest treatments for pain and symptom relief. Patients are encouraged to be as active and self sufficient as they wish. It is the goal of Hospice to have the patient as pain free and alert as possible. Constant communication with the patient and family assure success in this goal.

Hospice is not affiliated with any religious group. Social workers and grief counselors are trained in giving support to the patient, and, after the death, to the family. They also work with the patient’s pastor, if desired.

Support is available for the family for 13 months after the patient’s death. Camp Nabe (Nah’ bee) is a bereavement camp designed for children ages 7-17, who have experienced the death of a loved one. The camp is offered at no cost and is open to any child in West Virginia. It is not limited to Hospice Care families. The weekend event contains fun activities intermixed with coping skills and appropriate alternatives in expressing grief.

Harry Siers of Stumptown, who died Apr. 20, 2006, was a patient of hospice. His wife, Terry, was high in her praises of Hospice employees. Because of individual needs, the family had connections in several areas of the state.

Harry Siers.

Harry was well-known and loved in the community and had many friends. Though it is wonderful to have so many caring friends, it was stressful when the family was protecting his dignity and health, and their own needs for time together.

Hospice employees not only helped to care for Siers, but assisted in addressing the issue of handling visitors and phone calls in a tactful way.

His wife’s personal counseling group, made up of members of other grieving families, share a special Christian bond and continue to meet periodically.

Terry said, “These are special people who understand me and care. I am grateful for their friendship.”

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