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Hunterdon News

Raising Awareness of the Benefits of Hospice Care

Nurse caring for a senior woman.
November 2, 2018

Raising Awareness of the Benefits of Hospice Care

Hunterdon Hospice, Inc Celebrates November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

Hospice is not a place but is high-quality care that enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness.  November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and Hunterdon Hospice, Inc is reaching out to help people understand all that hospice care offers.

In recent months, a number of notable Americans have died.  They include Senator John McCain, the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin and former First Lady Barbara Bush.  In many media reports, they were described as having “given up” on curative care late in their lives. Ms. Franklin opted for hospice care; Mrs. Bush received what was described as “comfort care.”

”It is essential that people understand that hospice care is not giving up, it is not the abandonment of care, it is not reserved for the imminently dying”, said Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). “Hospice is a successful model of person-centered care that brings hope, dignity and compassion when they are most needed. “   This is one reason that the national My Hospice Campaign was launched this year.  

Every year, nearly 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive care from hospices in this country, reports NHPCO. Hospice programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support and spiritual care to patients and their family caregivers when a cure is not possible.

“Hospice care is truly about empowerment.  Our goal is to empower the individual and family so that choices about care and support allow the individual to live life to the fullest, up to the final moment,” said Margaret Doyle, MSN, RN, CHPN Director of Hunterdon Hospice, “We are there to provide expert and comprehensive pain and symptom management, guidance and support.”

In 2019, Hunterdon Hospice will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Forty years ago, patients with a terminal illness had little choice of where they would spend their final days.  Patients with cancer, heart disease and other terminal illnesses would be treated as long as they could, sometimes with the help of visiting nurses, but once a critical situation arose, the patients were often admitted to the hospital and spend their last days there.  In the late 1970s, a group of local Hunterdon County Residents from many walks of life began to think about this as a problem that needed examination. A task force, known as the “Ad Hoc Committee” of the Hunterdon Institute on Death, Dying and Bereavement, was created and tasked with completing a demographic study of all deaths in Hunterdon County for one year.   The one-year study revealed that most patients in Hunterdon County, regardless of the cause of death, died at the hospital not at home. There was no system of care in place to help individuals and families with the physical, spiritual and social needs that arise when end of life is near. Forty years later, with the added Medicare Hospice Benefit that was not in existence when Hunterdon Hospice first began, Hunterdon Hospice continues to provide a person-centered approach to care, offering services based on a person’s unique care needs and wishes.

For more information about hospice care, palliative care and Hunterdon Hospice, contact us at (908)-788-6600.

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