Jeff Sikorovsky: Recognizing importance of hospice, palliative care

Throughout the month of November, HospiceCare will be joining other local hospices and palliative care agencies around the state and across the nation in hosting community events in recognition of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.

In the coming year, HospiceCare is also excited to celebrate its 40th anniversary of serving patients and their families during their time of greatest need. From our humble beginnings in 1979, with a dozen of volunteers coming together to serve a handful of patients at home here in Charleston, HospiceCare has grown to provide hospice and palliative care for more than 3,000 patients and their families this year in 16 counties across central West Virginia.

But we have not done it alone, nor should anyone have to.

Without our brave patients, their families and their primary care physicians inviting us into their lives and homes to help, we couldn’t do what we do.

HospiceCare also is one of more than a dozen hospice and palliative care agencies around the state that make up the Hospice Council of West Virginia. HospiceCare and other such agencies are your local experts on end-of-life care, providing peace comfort and dignity to patients and their families when time is short, and helping them live life to the fullest as best they can.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach to care, each hospice team consists of doctors, nurses, social workers, CNAs, counselors, chaplains, volunteers and office personnel that work together to provide the best possible outcomes for thousands of families every day throughout the state.

We care for children and adults from infancy to beyond 100 years of age at home, in long-term care nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, or in one of several inpatient hospice facilities that have been developed around the state in the past 20 years.

Hospices ensure that pain management, therapies and treatments all support a plan of care that is centered on the person’s individual goals. This care plan also provides emotional support and advice to help family members become confident caregivers and adjust to the future with grief support for up to a year.

Working together, we have developed a strong foundation of compassionate care statewide to ensure that each patient and family receives quality hospice and palliative care. This puts us in a position to continue to play a vital role in the state’s overall health care continuum well into the future.

HospiceCare’s former executive director, Larry Robertson, who retired this summer after 20 years of service to the agency, said, “From the outset it has always been about the patients and their families. This year we will provide care for more than 2,500 patients in our hospice program and another 600 patients in our palliative care program. At this level, it is no wonder that many people still stop me in the grocery store, downtown, or at church to tell me what wonderful care we gave to their loved one and their family during their time of need. And invariably I hear the same quote, ‘I don’t know what we would have done without you. Your staff made our journey so much easier.’”

Every year, nearly 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive care from hospices in this country, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

“We can help sooner than you think” is a common slogan among hospice providers in that the patient need not be eminently dying for us to provide care. The main requirement for admission to hospice is a diagnosis of serious illness with a prognosis of six months or less without curative treatment. Families need not wait to call to see if they are eligible for hospice services until it is too late.

Moreover, with the growth of palliative care programs around the state and nationwide, most hospice agencies are also some of the best providers of community-based palliative care, which can be provided at any time during an illness — during and after treatment, from diagnosis on.

Palliative care provides expert consults and education to improve quality of life and relief from pain and other symptoms, as well as helping the primary caregiver better understand how they can help.

Learn more about hospice, palliative care and advance care planning by contacting HospiceCare at (304) 768-8523 or visiting them online at www.hospicecarewv.org. For other local agencies statewide and nationally, visit the Hospice Council of WV at www.hospicewv.org or NHPCO’s CaringInfo.org.

HospiceCare is proud to be celebrating its 36th annual Love Light Tree Season from the day after Thanksgiving until the day before Christmas Eve at the Charleston Town Center Mall. All are welcome to stop by our tree display on the second floor of the mall and visit with one of our volunteers to learn more about hospice and palliative care programs that can benefit them.

Jeff Sikorovsky is the marketing director at HospiceCare, which serves 16 counties in West Virginia.

Funerals for Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ellis, Walter - 1 p.m., West Logan Missionary Baptist Church.

Evans, Robert - 2 p.m., Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Hess, Steven - 6 p.m., Grace Church of the Nazarene, South Charleston.

Holmes, Buddy - 2 p.m., Elizabeth Baptist Church, Charleston.

Jeffrey Jr., Algie - 2 p.m., Stevens Chapel Methodist Church, Lake.

Mace, Elma - 2 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Arnoldsburg.

Meadows II, Richard - 2 p.m., Central Christian Church, Huntington.

Messinger, John - 2 p.m., Davis Funeral Home, Clarksburg.

Reynolds, Gladys - 1 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Smith, Rosie - 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Sykes, Teresa - 2 p.m., Winfield Church of the Nazarene.