Most of us are familiar with someone from church or work or in our family who has chosen hospice care. If they have done so, that person and their loved ones made a very good decision.
Hospice is not about death as much as it is about life. About living it out the way you want to. Hospice care is a gift that gives you a voice in how you want to live what life you have left and plan for a good death.
"The focus of the care we provide to thousands of people in this area is based on the belief that each of us has the right to die with dignity, as pain free as possible, surrounded by our family and friends," said Greg Phelps, M.D., medical director for Hospice of Chattanooga. "Most of the time, the setting for someone choosing hospice care is their home, though their home might now be a nursing home or assisted living facility."
Last year, an event at UTC drew over a hundred people who used part of the session to pair off in small groups to discuss those things one would really want to have happen at that most precious time of our life. A time to see and do the things you never have, but always wanted to experience. It is an interesting exercise to sit with your family and discuss what each of you would want to do with the rest of your life?
Hospice of Chattanooga care gives some- one a chance to reclaim their life. Once someone accepts that dying is not a question of "if " but rather of "when," hospice care opens up a path to claim comfort while creating more memories with family and friends. Every patient is surrounded by a hospice physician, nurse, CNA, social worker, bereavement counselor, chaplain and an assigned volunteer that walks with them on their end-of-life journey.
Tracy Wood, CEO of Hospice of Chattanooga says part of every hospice worker's day is spent explaining to people what they do because many people think they are supposed to be afraid of hospice.
"Not a week goes by that a family member tells us that if they had known how great Hospice of Chattanooga is, they would have called us sooner," said Wood, who says studies show that patients who choose hospice frequently live longer than those who continue curative treatments.
The other gift given this community by the only not-for-profit hospice provider in this region is the Hospice Care Center. "We are unique in that respect," said Wood. "There are other hospice organizations but none of them offer this kind of facility for patients who need intensive symptom management and which accommodates family members like we do."
Today, the Hospice Care Center is off of I-75 near the Bonny Oaks Drive exit. But since most Care Center patients come from the area's major hospitals (Erlanger, Memorial and Parkridge), the facility will soon move downtown. Wood says she anticipates opening a new care facility in October, across the street from Erlanger's emergency room. "We want to better serve our referring hospitals and this move gets us closer to them and the families who deserve our inpatient care" she said.
While most hospice patients are referred by their physician, anyone can ask for a medical assessment to see if their loved one should have hospice care. Feel free to call Hospice of Chattanooga at 423-892-4289 to request a visit, or you can learn more about hospice care at hospiceofchattanooga.org.
To learn more about Hospice of Chattanooga, call 423-892-4289 to request a visit, or you can learn more about hospice care at hospiceofchattanooga.org.