A Time for Honoring Hospice

Doctor and patient at Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care

Doctor and patient at Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care
Often times it seems like we are inundated with celebrations of special causes, which include their own special color ribbon, or commemorative event. And while these events raise awareness and money, they are soon forgotten by the general public. They are, however, especially meaningful for those of us who have been directly affected by the causes they represent. And so it is for me and National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Over the past ten years, no less than six of my family members were under hospice care before they died. That’s why I take every available opportunity to tell people about the benefits of hospice care, and of the special people who administer that care.

Hospice offers a multi-disciplinary, holistic regimen of medically supervised, end-of-life care for terminally ill patients, which is designed to keep them comfortable and pain-free. Hospice programs are staffed by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, chaplains and others who administer to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient, while also lending support to the family. Hospice services can be offered in the patient’s home, or at a hospice-run facility, like the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Winston-Salem, the Joan and Howard Woltz Hospice Home in Mt. Airy, and the new SECU Hospice Care Center of Yadkin.

I remember someone once said to me, “Hospice is where you go to die.” But just ask a hospice team member, or anyone who’s had a loved one under hospice care, and they will tell you that hospice is all about quality of life for the patient, and helping them live in comfort with dignity during their final journey. That’s why it is so important to meet with a hospice team as soon as your loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. In the early stages, the patient might benefit from extended palliative care, then gradually and seamlessly transition to full hospice care in the final six months. Advance planning is invaluable, and can prevent the kind of emotional turmoil that can occur when families wait too long to make a decision about hospice care.

But as much as hospice care benefits the patient, it also benefits family members, especially those who are thrust into the role of caregiver. For those folks, hospice provides peace of mind and a responsive support system, which includes volunteers who perform a wide variety of duties, including respite care, which allows caregivers to take a break from their day-to-day responsibilities.

Hospice also offers outreach programs that benefit patients, families, and the community. For example, Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care, which serves 17 counties in North Carolina and Virginia, offers counseling services and grief camps for children who have lost a loved one. They offer special hospice services tailored to the unique needs of military veterans. They provide pet care for patients. They have a volunteer choir that performs for patients and community groups. They operate a Re-Sale Shoppe where the public can donate items which can be given to hospice families, or sold to raise money for supporting the hospice mission. And, they provide all of these programs and services while maintaining a not-for-profit status, which means you can never be denied hospice care, regardless of your financial situation.

November is National Hospice & Palliative Care Month, so as we recognize the compassionate professionals who administer hospice care, I also hope you will take time to learn more about hospice, and how it might benefit you and your family. I also encourage you to donate your time to hospice because they are always in need of volunteers. For more information, visit the websites of Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care or Hospice Care Center.
 
 

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