National Hospice Palliative Care Month recognized in Clark County

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Working with individuals in dire circumstances is a deed that can quickly go unrecognized.

Such was not the case at the Clark County Courthouse last Tuesday morning.

A proclamation ready by Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham declared November 2022 to be National Hospice Palliative Care Month.

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“I do hereby proclaim November 2022 as National Hospital Palliative Care Month and encourage citizens to increase their understanding and awareness of care at the end of life and to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs”, he said.

Several staff members from Hospice East joined Branham in the fiscal courtroom for the occasion.

The individuals included Medical Director Bill Greiser, nurses Melissa Reffitt and Brittany Cord, nurse and clinical coordinator Karen Watts, administrative assistants and state registered nursing assistants (SRNA) Misty Jones and Kara Taylor, and chaplain Peter Stephens.

“We try to educate the community more about what hospice is [and] what we do,” said Debbie Jones, the Executive Director of Hospice East. “So many people need hospice, but they don’t understand.”

Among other facts, hospice care is estimated to save Medicare more than $2 billion each year by providing solutions for physicians, care to patients, and comfort for families during a difficult time.

Hospice programs serve over 1.5 million Americans yearly throughout the United States, with over 400,000 trained volunteers contributing approximately 19 million hours of service.

Providers wish to educate the public about hospice care, including that care through a bereavement program gets provided for one year after the patient passes away.

“Our bereavement coordinators follow the family for a year after their loved one [has] passed, and we also have a memorial service in November that honors the patients that had died that previous year,” said Jones. “We invite all the family members to come…We do calling of all the names, ring a bell, and then we serve refreshments afterwards.”

For those in mourning, the service is beneficial.

“We’ve had so many people in the community tell us they were struggling with their loved one’s death, but [the] program really helped [them] get through the holidays,” Jones said. “That’s what it’s about – getting through the holidays without your loved one for the first time.”

Hospice East looks after clients in more ways than one.

Though similar, palliative care offers some differences in criteria granted through caregivers.

Specifically, hospice cares for patients with six months or fewer life expectancies, although many have exceeded expectations.

Palliative care tends to patients diagnosed with a chronic illness and homebound.

“Our focus is comfort care, quality of life, trying to improve, and symptom management,” said Regina Prewitt, a palliative nurse practitioner at Hospice East. “It helps people to not have to leave their home, especially when they can’t leave their home or they’re limited in being able to leave.”

Palliative care can be performed with various diagnoses, including COVID and Alzheimer’s.

Several treatments can be utilized, including X-rays, bloodwork, and more.

While some might think the work is challenging, those working in the field have also found satisfaction.

“It’s the most rewarding job I think I’ve ever had in my 30-year career in the medical field”, said Prewitt.