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Hospice Care – 'A Benefit That Should Not Be Wasted'
By Lois Thomson

If you were in a seemingly overwhelming situation, and knew that help was available but just ignored it, wouldn't that be a little puzzling? That's why Kathy Triebe is trying to persuade people to take advantage of hospice care.

"I would probably encourage anyone whose family member is eligible for the hospice to utilize that benefit, because hospice is there to give you support – not only the physical support and education to teach about what's going on and how to care for the patient, but also the emotional support through spiritual care and bereavement. I just feel it's a benefit that should not be wasted, but too many people do not use it."

Triebe is transitioning from Director of Professional Services for Heartland Hospice in Irwin, to being the Administrator at Heartland's new facility in Somerset. Triebe said she currently directs the clinical side of the hospice, managing all of the staff, and "making sure that the care we provide is the kind of care we want to provide, which is top-notch."

That care comes from all levels, from the home health aids who assist with daily activities such as feeding or bathing; to the nurses who do a complete assessment of each patient on each visit and manage symptoms as they come up; to the social workers and chaplains who provide counseling both during the illness and following death.

Triebe said, too, that the care is provided in private homes, personal care homes, assisted-living facilities, and hospitals – "wherever the patients call home." She added, "We provide quality care to patients so that they can have optimal quality of life, with comfort and dignity to the end."

So if hospice care encompasses all of this, why wouldn't somebody take advantage of it? "I think a lot of it is ignorance that the benefit is available," Triebe said. "Many people feel that hospice is available only for cancer diagnosis." However, she explained, it's potentially for anyone who reaches the point in a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less. She detailed more reasons for not using it: "Sometimes it's denial. Or sometimes people think, 'I promised to take care of Mum,' and they feel guilty if they're unable to do so.

"But by getting help, you're able to give better care."

For more information, visit www.hcr-manorcare.com

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