Comfort, care and quality of life

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By Joey Gomez

Compassion lies at the heart of hospice. When the goal for patients with life-limiting illnesses is no longer curative, hospice is there. They provide the support and care for persons in their last phases of life so they may live as fully and comfortably as possible. At CIMA HOSPICE, this care is as uniquely individualized for each of the patients and the families they care for. Moreover, it’s not always about the services provided by a hospice, it is as much about the people that deliver this care.
The staff at CIMA HOSPICE is dedicated to compassionately and respectfully providing this care to patients and their families. It’s a trait that sets them apart from other health care agencies and the very foundation which guides them in their care to dying patients.
Akin to a spiritual calling, staff at CIMA HOSPICE say the job is more about peace and reconciliation, while realizing one important fact; when this life ends another begins.
“A big part of hospice is compassion and compassionate people are who we are at CIMA otherwise you wouldn’t be working here. It’s our people that set us apart,” said Linda Balli, Administrator for CIMA HOSPICE in McAllen. “It’s a very rewarding job, but it’s also one of the most difficult jobs you will ever do. Dealing with death and dying can be difficult. Each experience is different, each patient is different, and services are tailored to the needs of each patient and family.”
Considered to be the model for high quality, compassionate care at the end of life, the range of services CIMA HOSPICE offers include a team-oriented approach that incorporates expert medical care, pain and symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support.
“The goal of this type of care is to treat the person instead of the disease, and focus on the family and loved ones; not just the individual and the quality of a person’s life is emphasized, not its duration,” Balli commented.
Hospice usage in the U.S. is growing. Research shows that 8 out 10 Americans would want to stay in their homes surrounded by family and loved ones if they were faced with a life-limiting illness. Hospice makes this happen. Every year, more than 1.58 million Americans with life-limiting illness are cared for by the nation’s 5,100 hospice providers.

The median length of service for patients in hospice is 29.7 days; half of these patients receive care for more days and half of them receive care for fewer days. Yet, more than 35 percent of patients die or are discharged in seven days or less – too short a time for patients and families to benefit from the full ranges of services a hospice can offer.
Moreover, cancer accounts for less than 36 percent of hospice patients – which surprises many people who mistakenly think hospice only serves cancer patients. The five other leading hospice diagnoses include heart disease, debility, dementia (including Alzheimer’s), lung disease and stroke.
Referrals for hospice are typically made by a physician, hospital, nursing or assisted living facility, foster home or the patient and family. Before a patient can be admitted to hospice services, a physician order must be obtained.
When a referral is made to CIMA HOSPICE, a team Representative will make initial contact with the family to meet and explain the services offered. During this visit their staff will work with the family in developing a plan of care, and signs the necessary paperwork.
“A lot of people think about hospice, and they think of cancer, which is a misconception,” said Alice Garcia, RN, Clinical Director at CIMA HOSPICE in McAllen. “I think another misconception is that with hospice, all care is discontinued. When in fact, we are the experts in providing quality care with dignity and compassion and aggressively maintaining a patient’s comfort through pain and symptom management.”
“We’re working hard all year round to make sure people know the full range of services that CIMA HOSPICE provides in the community”, added Balli. “Yet during November, National Hospice Month, we ramp up our efforts to raise awareness of hospice care. This year’s theme is: “Hospice brings patients and families Comfort, Love and Respect.”
Living life as fully as possible is what hospice care is all about. To learn more about hospice services, call 1 800 HOSPICE.