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Hospice of Palo Alto County: Providing Support Assistance And Care To The Whole Family

By Staff | Jan 22, 2008

Maximizing the quality of time you have left when facing a life-threatening disease is a goal of Hospice care. Whether it is helping provide for spiritual care, financial care, or health and pain management, Hospice services provide these and a wealth of services for patients and their families.

Karen Kauffman, RN, Director of Hospice of Palo Alto County comments, “Most people think hospice is what you do when there’s nothing left to do.”

Kauffman continues, “That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Hospice provides a wide range of services to the family and patient that maximize quality of life and help people live as fully as possible, on their own terms. Hospice exists to provide support and care to those in the last phases of an incurable disease so that they can live as fully and comfortably as possible with their family and friends around them.”

Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, psychological and spiritual counselors, and community volunteers. They are trained to serve the unique physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of hospice patients and their families. While a patient must have an expected prognosis of six months or less, hospice care can be provided for six months or longer, depending on the course of the illness. Many people do not understand this and wait unnecessarily before seeking care. Hospice Care is a covered benefit under Medicare, Medicaid and in most private insurance plans.

The Barkve Family of Cylinder used Hospice services during Harry Barkve’s illness.

Harry’s wife, Gloria, commented, “Utilizing the services of Hospice of Palo Alto County was a tremendous experience for our family. I don’t know what we would have done without them. We were able to keep Harry at home. He was born there and his wish was to die there. I can’t say enough about Hospice. If I needed something, like equipment, they brought it right out to us. They were all great, even the home care aide, Missy Studer who made him feel so comfortable. It was nice to have volunteers that we knew or had a connection with. Tom HcHugh knew our son, Scott. Judy DePue was our neighbor. It was great having so many familiar faces coming to help us.”

“Caring for Hospice patients and their families has been very rewarding”, commented Karen Kauffman. “We have had patients receive Hospice services for a couple of days through more than two years. As a nurse, I get to know a family and develop a bond with them. While working with patients, together we reminisce, we laugh and we cry.”

Hospice helps patients and their families get spiritually, financially and emotionally ready for end of life. Pain medications and medical equipment are available through Hospice Services. Social workers assist the family with resources and finances if needed. Spiritual counseling is available, as well as trained volunteers who provide respite care for the family.

To contact Hospice of Palo Alto County, which is affiliated with Palo Alto County Hospital, please call Karen Kauffman, RN, Hospice Director at Community Health Services, 712-852-5419.