Services offered through Community Hospices of America were detailed by hospice care consultant Joni Moore for the Monett Kiwanis Club this week.
Moore, who has been a registered nurse for 18 years, has spent 12 years in the hospice field. While hospice work specifically involves working with those who are dying, Moore said the labor itself "is not a job. It's a mission and calling."
A video shown by Moore explained the process of getting into hospice service starts with a medical evaluation. Patients are welcome to seek second opinions. When a patient fails to respond to treatment and there is no cure, hospice becomes available.
"The primary purpose of hospice is to let a person die with dignity and the utmost care," Moore said.
"The number one priority in hospice is getting the patient comfortable, managing pain and mobility."
Patients are always in charge of what care in rendered. Nurses visit the patient's home to make regular assessments.
Hospice pays for medication and comfort measures. Hospice services are covered financially by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. Moore said hospice care is even avaliable to persons already in a nursing home.
A foundation also provides funds for those without insurance. There have been patients in Barry County, Moore said, who have been too young to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Hospice service is available anyway.
The main trigger for hospice care is when a patient is deemed to have six months or less to live, Moore said. If conditions change and the patient improves, hospice care can be extended, as long as it is seen to be doing the patient good.
Major physical problems leading to hospice care, according to Moore, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiac problems, liver failure thatis common among drug users, the HIV virus and job-related illness. Patients can also suffer from a combination of these ailments.
The average age for a person needing hospice care is 57, Moore said, which is younger than a decade ago. Not all staff and volunteers can deal with younger people who are dying, making those who can provide hospice care special people.
Barry County has the highest per capita volunteer rate of hospices operating across the nation, Moore said. Volunteers help with shopping, letter writing, home help, reading mail and providing assistance in the hospice office. There is also a group of military veterans who volunteer specifically to help other veterans.
Community Hospices of America are an affiliate of Hospice Compassus, a national consortium of 51 hospices. Volunteer training is available through the Monett office at 845 Highway 60, in the Hess Mall. Information is avaliable by calling 235-9097.
Kiwanis President Lisa Balmas presided at the meeting. Gordon Brown was the program chairman.
Upcoming Kiwanis events discussed at the meeting included the Peanut Day fundraiser for iodine deficiency charities on the afternoon of May 15, a pancake dinner at the American Legion Home on May 28, and the Sportsmen's League youth fishing derby on May 30.