November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Hospices across the country are reaching out to raise awareness about important issues for people coping with life-limiting illness.
As the holidays approach, many of us will gather with family and friends. More often than not, these gatherings will include reminiscences about loved ones, re-telling of funny family stories, and the sharing of traditions honored year after year.
This emphasis on remembrance, so welcomed during joyful times, also plays an important role in difficult times, especially at the end of life.
''Every year, more than 1.4 million people living with a life-limiting illness receive care from hospice and palliative care providers in this country,'' said J. Donald Schumacher, president and chief executive officer of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. ''These highly trained professionals don't only provide quality medical care. They work to make sure patients and families find dignity, respect, and love during life's most difficult journey.''
Studies have shown that, when faced with a life-limiting illness, most people are more concerned about the impact it will have on their family, not themselves. By focusing on the individual, not the illness, hospice care honors life's final journey, leaving a legacy of compassion and caring. Hospice and palliative care bring comfort, dignity and peace to help people live every moment of life to the fullest, leaving loved ones with memories they can treasure.
The family of James Trauger wrote about their experience with Trinity Hospice following his death:
''Words cannot express our heartfelt gratitude for your exemplary kindness and assistance in the final days of our dear father's and husband's journey in life. Our family has the utmost faith and trust in the hospice program and in the very special people who work in hospice. You have truly given us all an inspiration with your loving tenderness and gentleness bestowed upon our dear loved one.''
Trinity Hospice has served the Fort Dodge and surrounding communities since 1983. Anyone dealing with a life-limiting illness whether it is cancer, end stage heart disease, kidney failure, end stage dementia or a variety of other diagnoses is eligible for hospice care if they are no longer seeking aggressive treatment. Their physician must agree that their prognosis fits the six-month guideline established by Medicare. Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances.
Hospice is more than traditional health care. Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible. Hospice and palliative care combines the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support that families need most when facing the end of life.
As Peggy Larson, mother of Coleman Larson, who died at the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home earlier this year noted, ''You eased our fears and helped lessen the painful part of the last week we spent with Coleman. Thanks to you that last week we spent together as a family of four is a week we can remember that was filled with love.''
Hospice and palliative care professionals and volunteers understand that every person they care for is a unique individual with a lifetime of experiences, relationships and gifts to share.
November is National Hospice/Palliative Care Month, a time to celebrate those who provide hospice and palliative care to those in our community and help raise awareness of quality care at the end of life. We are fortunate to have the experienced staff and trained volunteers of Trinity Hospice offering care and support during one of life's most challenging journeys. I encourage all those in our community to thank these dedicated individuals and support the ongoing work of Trinity Hospice.
We welcome members of the community to tour the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home from 1 to 4 p.m. today.
Over the last year, the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home has had the privilege to care for many patients and families. Help us honor these individuals and celebrate our first anniversary.
Additional information about hospice is available at Trinity Hospice's Web site at www.trmc.org/hospice or by calling the Trinity Hospice office at 574-6420.
Nadine Schlienz is manager of Trinity Regional Medical Center's Paula J. Baber Hospice Home.