Terry McLaughlin: Hospice of the Foothills can help | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: Hospice of the Foothills can help

In early November the Union published a piece written by the Executive Director of Hospice of the Foothills, Vivian Tipton. In her article, Ms. Tipton described Hospice folks as “experienced, educated professionals that can help. Be it physical, emotional or spiritual, they bring comfort to the whole patient as well as their family [so] you do not have to do it alone.”

Having recently lost a close family member who was under in-home hospice care for over a month, I can assure the reader that every word of that quote is true. The patient and family support provided by our local Hospice of the Foothills staff was invaluable to both our loved one and our family. From the first meeting with an intake nurse and social worker, to our last meeting with a Hospice nurse less than an hour after our loved one had left us, every single person we came in contact with either during in-home visits or on the phone was experienced, educated, professional, gentle, kind, and compassionate.

Hospice of the Foothills began as an all-volunteer operation in 1979, providing services to communities in Nevada and Placer counties. Since its founding, Hospice of the Foothills has evolved from a small group of volunteers to the professional, interdisciplinary care team of today. Every member of that team recognizes that quality of life, and peace and comfort at the end of life, should be the focus when a patient’s disease is no longer curable. Team members accomplish this goal by working closely with the patient and the family to offer symptom and pain control, explore spiritual connections, provide psychological support, and also provide continuing support for family and loved ones throughout the bereavement period.

Our Hospice caseworker/nurse made sure that the patient and the family clearly understood the disease, prognosis, treatment, and alternatives available. She patiently answered every question as she welcomed and encouraged the entire family to participate in the decision-making process. Support and advice were available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, either by telephone or in-person visits.

Hospice care is a very special kind of care which focuses on the quality of life for patients and caregivers, allowing people in the last phases of an incurable disease to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice care workers have a heart and a calling for this type of special care and our family personally witnessed the core values at work which guide the mission of Hospice of the Foothills – integrity, compassion, respect, dignity, sensitivity, empathy, and recognizing suffering and loss with kindness.

We are so fortunate to have such a supportive and needed organization in our own community, whose quality of care exceeds national hospice standards in every category. Based upon surveys taken in 2017, Hospice of the Foothills scored 94.9% or above in the six primary areas of care evaluated. In three of those areas, including discussing treatment preferences with the patient and managing pain and treating symptoms, Hospice of the Foothills scored 100%. National

Care is available to anyone suffering from a terminal disease with a prognosis of six months or less. A primary goal is to control pain and other symptoms so the person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible, living where ever they call home. Hospice’s team of professionals includes a hospice and palliative care certified medical director, hospice trained nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, hospice aides, therapists, and volunteers working together to address the unique physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of each patient and family. 
Hospice of the Foothills has been certified to participate in Medicare programs since 1994, and is licensed as a hospice by the state of California and certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Hospice of the Foothills is a member of the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Throughout the months of November and December of each year, Friends of Hospice observe the spirit of the season with a fundraiser called the Tree of Love. For each $15 donation, donors are invited to write a special message on a paper ornament to honor or memorialize a loved one. Today these ornaments adorn holiday trees at Hospice’s Gift & Thrift shops in Rough and Ready, Nevada City, Grass Valley, Penn Valley, and in the reception center of Hospice of the Foothills’ office at 11270 Rough & Ready Highway in Grass Valley. Hospice of the Foothills can be contacted at that address or at 530-272-5739.

I encourage you to learn more about this invaluable local resource, and to support it financially or as a volunteer in any way you can. You will never know when you or your loved one will be the grateful recipient of all of the professional and compassionate services they offer during some of the most difficult times of your life.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Grass Valley, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com

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