United Way Spotlight An agency which received funding from United Way of Vermilion will be featured in this spotlight each week. The United Way of Vermillion Board of Directors wants the people of Vermillion to know more about the agencies that receive United Way funding and the services which they provide to the Vermillion community.
This week's featured agency is Sioux Valley Vermillion Home Care Services/Hospice. Since November is Hospice Month, it is especially appropriate to recognize this agency as the recipient of United Way of Vermillion funding at this time.
Directed locally by Carol Lavin and staffed by four part-time hospice nurses (case managers), one social worker, and a hospice pastor as well as 30 volunteers, the hospice program provides care and support for terminally ill patients, their families, and their primary caregivers.
Nationwide, hospice is committed to the promotion and enhancement of the comfort and dignity of the terminally ill. Vermillion Hospice is committed to contributing to the physical, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the terminally ill. The hospice staff is further committed to the pursuit of excellence in the quality of care to the whole person, body, mind and soul.
Because of the equipment, care, counseling, and 24-hour, on-call assistance provided by the hospice nurses, pastor and social worker, many individuals are able to remain in their homes to be near their families during their final illness. Hospice personnel provide training and support for the patients' primary caregivers while also acting as liaisons between the patients and their physicians. Many patients never have to be put in nursing homes because hospice enables their families to care for them at home.
Hospice, the care of the terminally ill whether in their homes or in more formal settings, is dedicated to the premise that dying with dignity is a basic right and that dignity is maintained, through, among other things, the management of pain. Simply put, hospice care is based on the principle that "the use of drugs to control pain is not addiction." Furthermore, prescription medications that are related to the treatment of the patient's illness are available through the hospice program and, when obtained through hospice, are paid for by Medicare if the patient is eligible for Medicare benefits.
One of the many other services provided by the Sioux Valley Vermillion Hospice staff is securing equipment such as hospital beds, lift chairs, handicap railings, walkers, and wheelchairs. Much of this equipment is loaned to the patient thus relieving him/her of the additional worry of how to pay the often high cost of medical aides that may be needed for only a short period of time.
Hospice volunteers provide many services to patients and families. Volunteers visit with the patients, read to them, bathe them, cook for them, feed them, change bed linens, or provide much needed companionship. Volunteers often relieve primary caregivers so that they can grocery shop, take a walk, do errands, or just "get away" for a few hours.
Perhaps one of the most important services provided by all those associated with hospice care is the emotional and spiritual support rendered to both the patients and their family members and caregivers. Words are probably not adequate to describe the gratitude expressed by the patients' loved ones who benefit from the caring and strength they receive from volunteers and staff alike. The hospice program is the silver lining of terminal illness.
Families and caregivers benefit from hospice during and after their loved one's illness. Grief counseling and follow up are given to those who are "left behind" after the patient's death. Letters of reassurance of "normalcy" are sent to remind family and caregivers that what they are feeling is normal and that they are not alone.
United Way funding provides hospice services to those patients who have limited resources and do not qualify for Medicare or other third party reimbursement.
The need for hospice care is probably one of those things that none of us wants to think about. However, it is a very real need in our community and a very special benefit provided to this community by the volunteers and staff of the Sioux Valley Vermillion Home Care Services Hospice Program.
Editor's note: This United Way Spotlight was written by the primary caregiver of a hospice patient, not by the hospice staff.