Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin - 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. Palliative care brings this holistic model of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and hospice and palliative care programs across the country are reaching out to help people understand all that hospice and palliative care offer.
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 and palliative 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.”
Every year, nearly 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive care from hospices in this country, reports NHPCO. Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their family caregivers when a cure is not possible.
Crossing Rivers Health Hospice provides support and peace at the end of life’s journey, creating a caring environment where family and friends can say goodbye. Specially trained registered nurses are available 24/7. Hospice is provided in a variety of settings including private homes, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and for short-term purposes, at area hospitals. Bereavement support continues for families for up to 13 months after the passing of their loved one.
“With hospice care, you really focus on what is so meaningful to the patients and their families,” explained Brittney Miller, Crossing Rivers Health Hospice Social Worker. “It’s not about end of life, it’s so much more than that. It’s about living and what can be done to make this life the fullest it possibly can be. Hospice care truly is about quality of life, not quantity of life.”
Palliative care works as an extra layer of support to the treatments already being received, with a goal to help both patient and family experience an improved quality of life. The Crossing Rivers Health Palliative Care team of experts strives to provide specialized medical care for people with serious or chronic illness. The focus in palliative care is the anticipation, prevention and treatment of the symptoms and stressors of illness - whatever the diagnosis. The palliative care team may include palliative care nurses, social workers, chaplains, and a pharmacist.
“Being able to make a tiny difference in one person’s experience is what’s most important in palliative care. It’s why I became a nurse. It’s why I do what I do,” shared Pam Myhre, Crossing Rivers Health Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner.
Crossing Rivers Health Hospice is a proud recipient of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Hospice Honors award from Deyta Analytics, a division of HEALTHCAREfirst. Hospice Honors is a prestigious program that recognizes hospices providing the highest level of quality, as measured from the caregiver’s point of view. Crossing Rivers Health Hospice program serves the southwest Wisconsin communities throughout Crawford County, along with portions of Grant County in Wisconsin, as well as portions of northeast Iowa, including Clayton and Allamakee counties. More information about hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning is available from Crossing Rivers Health at crossingrivers.org.