Since Sue Noll and her Hays Medical Center colleagues realize there are misconceptions about hospice care, they are helping organize public events to raise awareness and much-needed funds.
Noll is supervisor of Hospice & Palliative Care at HaysMed, which has offered services for 30 years. Its territory is Ellis, Rooks, Rush and Russell counties.
“We want the community to learn more about this special care for terminally ill patients and their families,” Noll said. “Our hospice team of professionals and volunteers care for those in the last phases of an incurable disease.
“Our mission is to help them live comfortably in full accordance with their values and beliefs,” she added.
To relay this message, HaysMed sponsors Community Memory Trees and will participate in the Dec. 6 All American Breakfast at the American Legion.
Memory trees will display brass doves etched with the name of a person being honored or remembered. They will be located in the HaysMed Miller Medical Pavilion and the Dessin Fournir building in Plainville from Nov. 23 through Jan. 4.
The minimum suggested donation is $20 per dove. Request forms are available at physician clinics, HaysMed waiting rooms and at the hospital’s website – www.haysmed.com/hospice . Forms also may be requested by calling the hospice office, 785-623-6200.
The special annual breakfast also will benefit families because a percentage of advance ticket prices will be earmarked for HaysMed hospice. Adult tickets are $8 or 8.50 at the door; ages 12 and under are $3.50; and ages 5 and under are free. Call the office for tickets.
A craft and bake sale will be available at the breakfast too.
The money raised is used locally to help the hospice team support patients and families at a difficult time, Noll said.
The team includes the patient’s primary-care physician, hospice medical director, nurses, social worker, chaplain, therapists and volunteers. Services may be offered in a private home, nursing home or assisted-living center.
“We tailor services to individual needs,” Noll said. “The patient’s primary-care physician orders medication, treatments and other services. Some hospice visits are scheduled, while others are on an as-needed basis. Our nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Because the team consists of many professionals, Noll commented, hospice offers physical, spiritual and emotional care.
“We address physical symptoms such as pain, nausea and breathing problems,” she said. “Hospice also collaborates with the patient’s own clergy to address spiritual care. And our social worker is here for emotional and grief-related issues.”
Noll strongly encouraged anyone with questions about these services to contact their local hospice.
“We want to address any concerns they have,” Noll said. “When a loved one is facing death, there is fear and anxiety. Our team can support them through the last months and days.”
People of any age may be eligible for hospice when their doctor estimates a life expectancy of six or fewer months and they are no longer receiving curative treatments.
Medicare, KanCare and most private insurance cover hospice. “But we care for people regardless of insurance coverage,” Noll said.
“Hospice pays for medications, and medical supplies and equipment related to the terminal prognosis,” Noll continued, noting patients use the pharmacy of their choice. “A patient can discontinue hospice any time and come back if they qualify.”
In addition, hospice offers inpatient care for up to five days at a time when a caregiver needs a break.
“Our team also provides bereavement care for 15 months, which includes one-on-one contacts, mailings and support groups,” Noll said. “We have a memorial service every six months and invite families to celebrate their loved ones’ lives.”
The supervisor noted that volunteers receive training and on-going education. They visit patients and run errands, and help with bereavement, fund-raising activities and other services.
“We are hoping for a good response to our fund-raising events,” Noll said. “In addition to sharing information about services, we want the community to know that we often hear wonderful feedback from families. They send us thank-you notes, and make phone calls and visits to our office. One hundred percent of those who respond to our surveys say they would recommend hospice services.”
The staff is available for community presentations about services, end-of-life issues, advance directives and grief.