November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, recognizing the professional team of caregivers who provide support to patients and their families despite a life-limiting illness. At Sidney Health Center, the Hospice team is comprised of a medical director, registered nurses, certified nurse assistants (CNA), social worker, chaplain, dietitian, pharmacists, and rehabilitation services including physical, occupational and speech therapists as well as community volunteers.
In the last three months, Sidney Health Center Hospice has served eleven patients including 215 in-home visits from the team of nurses, CNAs, social worker, chaplain, and family nurse practitioner – Jacqueline Free.
Among those receiving in-home care, is James Stoner, who suffers from Chronic Progressive Lung Disease (COPD) and emphysema. He and his wife, Maxine, are thankful for the services provided through Hospice. “It gives me a better route to medical information and managing my disease,” Jim said.
As a previous hospice volunteer, Maxine was aware of the services provided through the program and she had other family members who had utilized Hospice in other areas of the country. “Jim asked to go on Hospice several months ago as he got frustrated with constant doctoring and ER visits,” Maxine said. “Hospice offers a peace of mind for us as we have an on-call team at our disposal when his condition changes.”
“Hospice is really about learning to live with being sick and accepting it,” stressed Jim. “They keep a close eye on my status and adjust the medication as needed. I have notes from the nurses and a binder with lots of information to better understand what I’m facing.”
The nurse stops by their home once a week to monitor any changes related to medication or disease progression, ensuring that Jim is pain-free and comfortable. Hospice nurses must have critical thinking skills and be able to rapidly assess a situation, and respond accordingly with a plan of action to restore comfort to the patients and their families. The nurses are available 24/7 and involved in the day-to-day care activities including symptom management, teaching medication administration to family members, and wound care as needed.
“Most patients are reluctant to receive Hospice care because they feel like they are giving up,” said Jill Carpenter, director of visiting nurse services and hospice at Sidney Health Center. “Hospice is really about making the most out of the life you have left by minimizing pain and keeping you comfortable.”
The Hospice team meets every two weeks to review their patient care plans. The team provides not only symptom control and pain management, but also emotional and spiritual care to patients and their families. This high-quality care enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting diagnosis.
To learn more about Hospice and Palliative Care at Sidney Health Center, visit our website at sidneyhealth.org/Services/Hospice or by calling their office at 406-488-2138.