Hospice helps make final days more comfortable

It is one of the toughest realities a family has to come to terms with: a terminal diagnosis for a loved one. While the magnitude of that life change is overwhelming, there is a network of local people to help make the final days and months more comfortable at home.

It is a smiling face and a friend when it might be most needed.  Volunteers like retired nurse, Nancy Curtis, with CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospice choose to spend their days with patients who have terminal illnesses.

Curtis says it is something she remembers hearing in nursing school that sparked a fire in her to serve this group.  "'There but for the grace of God, go I,'" she said, "it helps you to understand what people are going through and that you might go through that one day, too."

Vera Ackley is a registered nurse with hospice and says the range of people served reaches far beyond the elderly.  "Hospice is a service that's provided to patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and they've decided that they don't want to seek aggressive treatment,"she said.

That could be a young person with cancer, a mom or dad with dementia or another terminal illness that can be managed outside of a hospital and in the comfort of a home.  "We can provide medications, we provide equipment, we also have visits that we make from our team," said Ackley.

That team includes volunteers, doctors, and nurses, all with the same foundation.  "It is someone who feels that it's been a calling," said Ackley.

It does not take long for families to embrace the hospice crew like family.  While some days can be trying, these ladies say the joy in serving hospice patients is something they hope to spread.  "These people need volunteers. I can't be the only one, so come on!" said Curtis.

Hospice does require a prescription from a doctor and is covered by Medicare and most insurance.

If you are interested in volunteering with hospice - anything from delivering food, to sitting with a patient or running errands for the family, call CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospice at 395-5600.

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