Contributed by Beth Pinyerd
“It’s About How You Live” is this year’s theme for November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Our community has been so supportive of this season of life and its needs by providing services. Hospice of Lee County began in the late 1980s. The community supported the opening of the Bethany House in October 2000. Even employees at EAMC donated from their paychecks to this cause. Bethany House is part of the Compassus family.
What is Palliative Care? Palliative Care helps people feel better by addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual problems that may arise with a serious illness. It can also reduce or eliminate the side effects from medical treatments. Palliative care is not time limited. It is available to patients of all ages, at any stage of a serious illness. Referrals most common for palliative care are cancer, heart disease, COPD, and other lung diseases, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Families and friends are included in the palliative support team. Services include symptom management and coaching for patient and family caregivers.
Doctors refer and meet for palliative care consultation with patients and their families. Palliative care with Compassus is served by a nurse practitioner under the medical director in a home, hospice facility, skilled nursing facility, long term care facility, assisted living facility and hospital. Just like other hospital or medical services, most insurance covers all or part of palliative care.
What is Hospice Care? Hospice offers peace and comfort to patients and their families by reducing the stress, pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. Contrary to what many believe, hospice is about living, not dying. Hospice definitely does not mean we are giving up. Patty Baggett, area executive of operations for Compassus and Bethany House, and Chris Starr, director of clinical services, Compassus and Bethany House, state that the “Holistic approach for hospice is we, as an interdisciplinary medical, professional team add life to your days by developing trust.” Hospice is not a place, but high quality care that enables patients and families to focus on living life as fully as possible. The hospice team includes a hospice physician, nurses, hospice aides, chaplain, social workers, trained volunteers and bereavement coordinators. The support team includes the family, friends or who the patient identifies as family.
Palliative and Hospice care is a service to support and care for the person and their families. To have this kind of professional support for the patient, family and friends during times of need, develop feelings of comfort, peace and relief.