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Burk: Comfort, peace and dignity are an option

Burk: Comfort, peace and dignity are an option

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Susan Burk

It’s not what you probably think it is. I talk about hospice care to a lot of folks, whether it be a group, my friends, my family, or in casual conversations. During those conversations, I often ask them what they think “hospice” is. Most of the time the answer is, “it’s that nice home over on Fenway where people go for the last few days of their life.” The thing is, that’s not what hospice is all about.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to talk about death. And when a patient and family hears “hospice”, as if the word is itself a terminal diagnosis, there’s often fear in their hearts. The fact is, hospice is not a place, it’s philosophy of care and a specialized field of medicine.

At Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions, our team companions not only the patient but the entire family through the end-of-life journey, as our mission states, “with skill and compassion”, and works to make that journey what the patient wants, providing a plan and a path forward.

There are many myths and misconceptions over what Hospice is, and isn’t. Here are some of the questions and concerns we hear, and the answers.

*First of all, hospice is not a place. Most of our patients are in their own homes, whether it be their residence in town, out at their ranch, or in an assisted living or nursing home facility. Our Kloefkorn Hospice Home is available to those who need that specialized level of care, and soon our Chapman Hospice home will be reopening to provide even more rooms and care for our community.

*Choosing hospice care does not mean you’re giving up; it’s a shift in the way you’re approaching your medical care. If you or your loved one no longer wants treatment or it’s not working, Hospice provides a way to live the rest of your days in comfort, peace, and dignity. It’s not about giving up, it’s about improving quality of life surrounded by family, in the comfort of your home.

*Choosing hospice doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. You can leave a hospice program at any time for any reason without penalty. You can also restart hospice services any time if you are medically eligible.

*Hospice does not hasten death, neither does it prolong life. In fact, some studies show that hospice patients with certain illnesses may live longer with hospice care than those who choose another path. Again, the goal is to make the quality of the patient’s life the best it can be in their last months, weeks, and days.

*Hospice will not take away all your medications. Your hospice nurse will go over your medications with you and your family to decide what you need stay comfortable. Other medicines may be added to keep you relaxed and free of pain.

*You don’t have to give up your doctor if you choose hospice care. Our team of nurses will work with your doctor to be sure you get the best quality of care.

*There’s no time limit for hospice services. Although a doctor must decide that you have a six months prognosis to receive hospice care, patients aren’t discharged after that time. There’s a recertification process, and many of our patients have been with us much longer than six months, some even years.

Knowledge is a powerful thing, and if you have any questions or you think hospice may be in your or your loved one’s future, you only need to ask. Our team of Care Coordination Nurses are happy to meet with you and your family to discuss your needs. That conversation is not a commitment for you, but it is a commitment for us to make sure everyone in our community has access to, and knowledge of, this unique care.

Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions

319 South Wilson St, Casper, WY 82601

(307) 577-4832 or on the web, www.cwhp.org

Susan Burk is the Community Liaison for Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions

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