What does hospice mean to you?
Hospice means many different things to many different people. For those who have experienced hospice care in their own family, it may represent the comfort and peace of mind that helped ease a difficult time. For patients who are dealing with a life-limiting illness, hospice may mean support and guidance during an uncertain journey. And for those of us at UnityPoint Hospice who have the privilege of serving hospice patients and their families, it is about celebrating and honoring life in every moment.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Hospices across the country are reaching out to raise awareness about the many different issues for people coping with life-limiting illness.
"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," according to J. Donald Schumacher, president and chief executive officer of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. "These highly-trained professionals not only provide quality medical care, they also work to make sure patients and families find dignity, respect, and love during life's most difficult journey."
UnityPoint Hospice has served Fort Dodge and its surrounding communities since 1983, and it includes the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home, its in-patient hospice facility. 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.
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. Hospice and palliative care brings comfort, dignity and peace to patients and their families, encouraging them to live every moment of life to the fullest.
This month, take time to remember the people who provide hospice and palliative care to our fellow neighbors, friends, and family members, and help raise awareness of quality care at the end of life. I encourage everyone in our community to thank these dedicated individuals and support the ongoing work of hospice and palliative care.
Additional information about hospice and palliative care is available at UnityPoint Hospice's website at www.unitypoint.org/hospice or by calling the UnityPoint Hospice at 574-6416.
Julie Junkman, is clinical manager of UnityPoint Hospice.