Hospice workers happy to serve

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 24, 2009

Constantly dealing with death can be a depressing existence for most people, but that’s not the case with hospice workers and volunteers.

For them, bringing comfort to the lives of those terminally ill is a calling in life they are glad to answer.

Several hospices in the Miss-Lou give comfort and support to patients that are terminally ill.

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Glenda Sinclair, executive director of Hospice Compassus, formerly Community Hospices of America, said hospices work as a ministry more than a business.

“For the nurses and aids, it is a calling,” Sinclair said. “Some can do it and some can’t. It is rewarding work to help make the end of someone’s life better. The nurses are trained with that goal in mind.”

And that is what hospice care is all about. Hospices are for people who have been declared terminally ill and, based on the current form of treatment, have six months or less to live.

Patients have to be referred to hospice care by their physicians.

Sinclair said hospice’s goal is to help the patient’s enjoy the best possible quality of life by alleviating pain and controlling the symptoms of the disease, as well as tend to their spiritual and mental needs.

To do that, hospices have a team of registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains and volunteers on call.

And Sinclair said the volunteers are just as important as anyone else in giving care to the patients.

“We have a big volunteer base that does important things for the patients,” Sinclair said. “One of the biggest things we have is an angel watch, where if we have someone who is about to die and has no one to be with them, we’ll send a volunteer to sit with them. No one should die alone.”

Hospice Compassus Hospice Care Consultant Jason Dauphin said there are a lot of misconceptions about hospice care, including the fact that the program is free to everyone that needs it.

“It is a benefit and an entitlement,” Dauphin said. “Taxes go to pay for this benefit, and that is the part that a lot of people don’t understand. One hundred percent of everything is paid for. We bill Medicare, Medicaid and the private insurance. The patients don’t have to pay anything.”

Sinclair said it’s important for people to start with hospice care as soon as they are eligible.

“People think that hospice is something you need when you’re dying, but it’s so much more,” Sinclair said. “It’s about your quality of life the last six months. One of the most frustrating things is getting a patient only three days before they die. Hospice can make the last six months of a person’s life so much better.”