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LETTER TO EDITOR: Hospice helps-more than you know

To the editor:

Statistics prove people live better and longer with hospice care.

This bold statement, which appears on billboards and literature for Hospice of the Red River Valley, is backed by years of ongoing national research regarding the benefits of receiving hospice care during the last chapters of one's life.

Surprised? Many people are. But consider the extensive services provided to hospice patients and their loved ones:

--intensive pain and symptom management in collaboration with their physicians;

--provision of necessary equipment such as hospital beds and oxygen tanks;

--regular assistance with personal cares, such as bathing, grooming and eating;

--assistance with insurance issues, coordination of other needed services and individual/family counseling;

--spiritual care, as desired;

--24-hour on-call support;

--practical assistance from volunteers to ease the demands of care giving;

--grief support for family members;

--respite care offering caregivers needed relief;

--provision of medications needed for symptom management.

As one family member stated, "Hospice takes care of most everything. All we have to do is be a family."

November is National Hospice Month. Not necessarily one of those recognition events that gets much awareness. Yet, while many people recognize the term hospice, and may even know a bit about this unique type of care, there are still so much that many people do not realize.

The purpose of hospice care is to help people live as fully as they can when they have a known life expectancy of six months or fewer. Hospice care doesn't represent the end of treatment or hope. Rather, it is an intentional shift in treatment from an emphasis on cure to an aggressive focus on comfort and quality of life. Hospices throughout the country hear these three comments most frequently:

1) "I didn't know you did all that!"

2) "We wish we had called you sooner," and

3) "What would we have done without you?"

Hospice staff is highly skilled and compassionate, providing unparalleled care for those nearing the ends of their lives. We are readily available to help you assess how hospice services could help you - and whether or not a patient is currently eligible for hospice care.

You should also know that, because hospice care is a Medicare benefit - and included in virtually all other insurance policies - it is very affordable. And, yes, we also provide care to people who do not have insurance coverage.

We can help - more than you know.

Susan Fuglie

Executive Director

Hospice of the Red River Valley