It is to help these families in Southeast Missouri that Preferred Hospice has opened an office in Sikeston. According to Jeff Young, administrator, Preferred Hospice serves 12 counties in Southeast Missouri with the newest facility designed to better serve the patients and families in Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid and Cape Girardeau counties by bringing its services closer.
The services of Preferred Hospice are designed to provide "comfort care" to terminally ill patients through a team approach. The team focuses on providing pain/symptom management along with emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient and the family, said Young.
"Hospice is not about giving up," Young emphasized. "It is so much more."
Following a patient's decision to begin hospice care, an on-site evaluation will assist in determining what hospice services are needed. This can include not only the registered nurse care coordination, intermittent care at home, routine visits by a licensed a practical nurse and/or home-health aide as well as on-call physicians. Certain medication, medical equipment needs and nutritional supplements are provided based upon patient need.
Also services include helping with advanced directives, serving as an advocate for the patient and their families, helping make final arrangements and decisions brought on by the illness. Sometimes it is just as simple as remembering a birthday with a card.
Preferred Hospice provides a holistic approach to care, Young said. "There is spiritual and clinical support not just for the patients but their families as well," he explained.
According to Young, not all those choosing hospice care stay with the service. In some cases, through the care provided, patients improve to the point where hospice-supportive services are no longer needed. Others, who decide to seek further treatment for their diagnosis, also may choose to leave hospice care. However, should the treatment fail and the diagnosis remain terminal, the administrator said, those patients are welcomed back to hospice.
"The quality of life is of the utmost importance to us," said Young. "If we can discharge them, that is a good thing. We provide a lot of flexibility"
Currently there are about 25 employees in the Dexter/Sikeston offices. The staff in Sikeston includes two medical directors, doctors Muhammad Salamat and Cully Bryant along with licensed nursing staff, home health aides, in-
home workers, social workers and volunteers.
The cost of hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies, Young said.
"We don't charge patients' families for any the services we provide," said Young, adding no patient is ever turned away over ability to pay.
Stephanie Anderson, director of marketing, emphasized the role the hospice staff plays in education - for both the families and the patients. As a support tool, the staff is there to answer questions and concerns and give them the knowledge to make informed judgments.
"Hospice puts the patient in control again," she said. "When they have a decision to make we give them options. Whatever is a concern, we make sure that is what they have."
Crystal Jones said as a social worker many of the families have concerns about issues and the dying process. She works to help them develop coping and social skills to deal with the death process.
"Going through the death experience is quite different for each person and providing education is a big part of what I do," she said. "Sometimes even good friends don't know how to communicate with someone who is dying. People want to help, they just have to learn how."
Preferred Hospice even goes into the community speaking with organizations and clubs about hospice services and how to best support those terminally ill.
And following the death, the hospice staff remains close to the family,
"Many times in a life-limiting illness, the family suffers before, during and after the illness. For them we offer a bereavement program," said Young. Staff is available to meet with the families up to 13 months following a death of a hospice patient.
In addition to the Sikeston and Dexter facilities, Preferred Hospice has offices in St. Louis and Columbia. The corporate office is located in Ozark.
The Sikeston office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday but Young pointed out: "Hospice never closes. We have staff on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week available to our patients and families."
To learn more about Sikeston's Preferred Hospice services call 472-4774 or toll free 1-866-614-4774.