Hos­pice Month honors com­pas­sion for pa­tients

The Buffalo News - - PARK RECOMMENDATIONS - By John Lomeo John Lomeo is pres­i­dent and CEO of The Home­Care Part­ners (Ni­a­gara Hos­pice, Ka­los Health and Lib­erty Home­Care). is an is­sues-ori­ented col­umn that ap­pears on the ed­i­to­rial page each day. Writ­ers must have some back­ground or ex­per­tise on the t

Over the years, the pub­lic per­cep­tion of hos­pice care has ex­panded from the no­tion of the last stop of life from a very tough med­i­cal jour­ney to the larger view of what it of­fers: com­pre­hen­sive sup­port and ex­tended care in a com­fort­ing, com­pas­sion­ate at­mos­phere for pa­tients with life-lim­it­ing dis­eases.

No­vem­ber is Na­tional Hos­pice Month, a dis­tinc­tion that prompts us to re­flect on the growth of hos­pice care and the ex­cel­lent, dili­gent care pro­vided by ded­i­cated pro­fes­sion­als ev­ery day.

Each year, more than 1 mil­lion pa­tients in the United States are cared for by hos­pice. There are in ex­cess of 100,000 pro­fes­sion­als and 400,000 vol­un­teers who con­trib­ute med­i­cal, spir­i­tual and so­cial sup­port to pa­tients, re­gard­less of fi­nan­cial re­sources, while pre­serv­ing dig­nity and qual­ity of life in their dark­est hours.

In ad­di­tion to de­liv­er­ing com­ple­men­tary ac­tiv­i­ties that up­lift pa­tients, such as mas­sages, mu­sic ther­apy and aro­mather­apy, hos­pices ex­cel at unit­ing fam­i­lies in times of duress and ful­fill­ing last wishes like ex­pe­dit­ing mar­riage plans and ar­rang­ing spe­cial trips. Hos­pices al­ways an­swer their duty in ad­dress­ing the de­sires of each fam­ily; it’s what we do best.

Through part­ner­ships with med­i­cal providers, non­profit agen­cies and vol­un­teers, hos­pices con­tinue to raise aware­ness and funds to sup­ple­ment care and pro­vide ad­di­tional ser­vices not cov­ered by in­sur­ance. I am very proud of all the peo­ple who con­trib­ute their time, tal­ents and funds to sup­port hos­pice care.

In Au­gust 2016, the New York State Depart­ment of Health amended a reg­u­la­tion to pro­vide ex­tended cov­er­age for res­i­dents who ex­clu­sively re­ceive Med­ic­aid ben­e­fits, en­abling el­i­gi­ble pa­tients to live up to a year or more in hos­pice care based on their con­di­tion. This change demon­strated the com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing longer-term care needs, even as pa­tients fre­quently ar­rive for a few days or weeks.

There is no day in which a lo­cal fam­ily is not deal­ing with the chal­lenges and lo­gis­tics of hav­ing a loved one need­ing as­sis­tance to re­main in­de­pen­dent. The need for hos­pice could strike at any age, thus one is never too young to for­mal­ize end-of-life plan­ning. It is es­ti­mated that 27 per­cent of Amer­i­cans have put into writ­ing how they want to be cared for, while an equal amount have never con­sid­ered doc­u­ment­ing their wishes. Even with mil­lions plan­ning their care, there are too many pa­tients who die alone or in pain.

Hos­pice pro­fes­sion­als al­ways wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to have the con­ver­sa­tion with pa­tients to as­sess their prog­no­sis. They seek to ad­mit them sooner to man­age their care and es­tab­lish a com­fort level to max­i­mize the valu­able time they have left. For more in­for­ma­tion on hos­pice care, please visit nh­pco.org. The ed­i­to­ri­als on this page rep­re­sent the opin­ion of The Buf­falo News ed­i­to­rial board. Mem­bers are Pub­lisher and Pres­i­dent War­ren T. Colville; Ed­i­tor Michael K. Con­nelly; Ed­i­to­rial Page Ed­i­tor Kevin S. Wal­ter; and ed­i­to­rial writ­ers Dawn Marie Bracely and Greg Con­nors.

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