There may be a lot of the unknown associated with hospices.
However, he hands and heart behind Hospice Care of South Carolina do what they can to ease those fears with comforting expertise.
The hospice covers all 46 counties in the state and Newberry is no exception as they have been open for less than a decade.
Thomas Sample, the community relations liaison says that while all hospices have a minimum standard, it’s those that go above and beyond that make an exceptional experience for the patient and the patient’s families.
Sample points out that Hospice Care of S.C. does exactly that.
The hospice workers go into the patient’s home assisting them with whatever they need help with. This way, the patient may feel comfortable with his or her own surroundings, Sample points out.
The caring workers of Hospice Care of S.C.
The main caretakers of the hospice in the Newberry center include the nurses, hospice aides, a couple of medical directors or doctors, chaplains and many volunteers who just want to lend their time and heart to helping others nearing end of life.
Sample says that the hospice has volunteers who help out with running errands, sitting and caring for the patients and just providing a listening ear. The volunteers do not help out with any medical or clinical aid, Sample points out since this is what the nurses and hospice aides are for.
Sample says that they have youth and teenagers help out as well as anyone who just wants to help out in the hospice world.
As far as the hospice employees go, Sample says that the couple of medical directors for Hospice Care of S.C. dedicated to helping out. They actually use a couple of local family doctors, Dr. Ben Pinner and Dr. Chip Dixon, who exhibit skill, compassion and oversee helping the patients.
As Sample points out, “hospice isn’t a sitter service; it’s an intense team that comes in and focus to make sure the patient is comfortable and has support.”
Hospice aides are certified nursing assistants who helps to lighten the load of the caregiver.
As Tasha Harmon, a hospice aide points out, they are there at least five times a week. Harmon says because they are there so much, they are comfortable with the patient and family and can point out things to the nurse or doctor to ensure the best care.
Harmon says she probably averages about five patients a day.
Harmon says that working in a hospice, as opposed to somewhere else, is a calling. However, despite the very different aspect of working in a hospice, she knows this is where she is supposed to be.
“My goal is to keep them out of pain and comfortable,” says Harmon.
When Harmon or other hospice aides need additional support or help, there are the nurses such as Janna Felker.
Felker is a registered nurse and is like the head nurse. She assembles and assigns nurses and hospice aides to patients and she also mentions that she always has her cell phone on her.
She also deals with referrals, records and paperwork of the patient.
Nurses visit the patient at least two times a week for a head to to body assessment.
As Sample says, the nurse walks in and there’s no waiting room or worry about a person’s welfare.
Felker says that people ask her why she wants to work in hospice care and she says that she just wants to.
“You’re helping (patients) conclude their life (without) suffering; it’s hard to explain,” Felker says, who explains that hospice does not mean that death is imminent.
They help to ease the end of life care, just as if a woman were pregnant and preparing for the beginning of life.
The nurse also talks with other nurses as well as the medical director and hospice aide to provide the best service to that patient.
On the spiritual side of things is where the chaplain steps in.
The chaplain for Newberry County, Dr. Glenn Mosteller, provides bereavement support services once a month. Mosteller mentions that this free meeting is for anybody and not just families and friends of patients.
“Cute cliches don’t help grieving families,” Mosteller says, instead, “we have to listen to them and come as often as needed (to the patient’s home).”
Chaplains offer their services and Mosteller is knowledgeable of many religions and will accommodate the patient. However, if the patient and family do not care for any religious or spiritual service, Mosteller does not push anything. While he is well-trained with different religions, he will get the appropriate religious person in if the family would like.
The care that a patient receives is an explanation as to why hospice patients may live a bit longer than someone without hospice care, according to Sample.
A blend of services
As Sample pointed out, Hospice Care does go above and beyond the minimum expectations.
Aside from the previously mentioned bereavement meetings for anyone suffering the loss of a loved one, the hospice also has an Angelite program, Katherine’s Camp, Milo’s Friends and financial help when Medicaid or Medicare or insurance is not available.
The Angelite program is provided through the chaplains and they come along with any volunteers to churches or other organizations to talk about hospice care and support it offers.
When one does not have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, the Hospice Care Foundation helps with finances. The hospice does not bill patients or families as they receive help through one of those mediums.
Katherine’s Camp is held twice a year: once in spring and once towards the end of the year. The camp is for kids who may have lost a loved one or are going through that process. Trained grief counselors, child life specialists and a pediatric team helps the kids deal with their emotions all in a fun setting.
Milo’s Friends is where younger people can take care of pets of patients. There is training and a screening and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations.
While hospice is typically associated with caring for older people nearing the end of life, it’s for anyone from children to cancer patients who need assistance in preparing for this stage. It’s also for the families but as Felker says, they always have to keep in mind what the patient wants.
Often times they have to remind the family what the patient wants, she mentions.
Life is a journey and when the journey is disrupted, hospice is there to help prepare the patient for the end of that chapter.