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CHARM -- The message LifeCare Hospice director Christy Michaels shared with members of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday was one of hope.
"While we can't always add days to life, we can add life to days," the hospice care literature says, and it takes an army of experienced people from physicians to health care workers, social, spiritual and emotional support services for those facing the end of life.
The focus of the hospice program is to provide relief from pain and other symptoms, and create an atmosphere where quality of life is honored for both the patient and family.
"We're celebrating 35 years of providing hospice services in Holmes County and Wayne County, and in Wadsworth and Rittman," Michaels said. "In 2011, those three organizations joined together to create LifeCare Hospice. The idea behind this was, we really wanted to make sure that not-for-profit model of hospice was continued. The idea of neighbors taking care of neighbors, community based concepts, and by joining forces, we were able to continue that."
Michaels said it is an honor and a privilege to be allowed into peoples' lives as they are coming to an end.
"Our mission statement is to enhance the quality of life for patients and their families by providing them with compassionate care, support and grief resources during times of serious illness and loss," she said. "A lot of people look at the hospice setting as the last days, right before someone passes away, but it is so much more than that. As we get the chance to know someone months before their passing, we get to know them, their family, and find out how we can make the best of this time. And, we get to support their family afterwards."
The philosophy of hospice is that death is normal and the natural outcome of life.
"The patient and the family are really the heart of care," she said. The medical system as a whole focuses on one individual, appropriately. We look at the whole family, everyone who is involved is part of that unit of care."
It is care that goes wherever the person goes, be it in a private home or assisted living, a nursing facility or in-patient units, like the hospital.
"Wherever you are, we will provide services," Michaels said.
Care is best provided by inner-disciplinary teams, primarily physical, but there is so much more to what hospice is.
"It is important to be free of pain and to be able to breath easily," Michaels said. "But it is also important to have those relationships, to be able to connect spiritually, in our lives. We don't hasten death. We accompany people on their natural journey. We also have a responsibility to educate the community."
That is why she enjoys the opportunity to discuss Hospice to groups like the Chamber of Commerce.
A couple members shared their personal experiences with hospice and praised the efforts of the organization, which is available to anyone who meets admission criteria and is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, most proivate insurances, managed care plans and the Veterans Administration.
Hospice Services are located at 1900 Akron Road in Wooster, and the Millersburg Office is located at 1633 S. Washington St.
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.