The word “hospice” can often evoke feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or giving up.  However, Laura Lea Fossenbarger delivered a message of hope in “Hospice is Living” to Good Samaritan Society residents and guests at the GSS Resident Council meeting January 8.
Fossenbarger is the Community Outreach and Engagement Coordinator with Tabitha.  Though hospice is for terminally ill people who are not expected to recover, it’s more than just physically caring for the person with the illness or disease.  Patients on hospice are those who are not continuing to seek services for recovery from the illness or disease (or have exhausted all available treatment options)  However, hospice care meets the medical needs of the patient while caring for the family and the emotional needs of everyone involved.
Tabitha hospice care has four main goals.  Making the patient as comfortable as possible and managing their pain are very important.  In addition to the physical needs, helping people find peace is a main objective as well.  When possible, the Tabitha Foundation aims to grant a wish for those in hospice care.
These wishes can range from big things to small things.  Fossenbarger shared a story of a hospice patient who, through the coordination of her hospice team and the foundation, was able to travel for her daughter’s wedding.  Granting a wish can also be a way to help people find peace, not only for those who are passing on but for their families as well.
Fossenbarger shared that hospice is a Medicare part A benefit for those over 65. However, the Tabitha Foundation, which is a Christ-centered nonprofit agency, can be an option to help those who are not Medicare age or without insurance. Though when thinking of hospice, many think of the elderly, sadly there are younger patients who will go through a terminal illness.
Open communication about treatment options can help people make the best decisions about their medical care.  Fossenbarger encourages people to start conversations if they have concerns or want to know more about what is available.  Anyone can get the conversation started.  Having an initial visit with hospice doesn’t cost anything, but it can give a lot of information on what is available for a patient and their family.
The focus of hospice care is a team approach to help facilitate patient wishes.  
The hospice care team consists of nurses, hospice aides, attending physicians, pastoral team, bereavement coordinators, social workers, medical directors, leadership, and volunteers.
Hospice care takes place in private homes as well as facilities.  If a person is staying in the home, then the care team goes there.  If hospice care is sought for someone in a long term care facility like Good Samaritan Society, then the hospice care team will go there and work with the facility in providing their care.
“Hospice is Living” gave valuable information to residents and their guests on how and when to seek hospice care while also giving hope in having options for passing with dignity and peace.