The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 19, 2011

Giving up? They’re just getting started

Hospices in Enid concentrate on quality end-of-life care

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — End-of-life care has more become vital as more people desire better quality of life in their final days.

Hospice organizations are answering the call.  

There are three companies in Enid providing end-of-life care — two for-profit and one non-profit — and while the base services are similar, each offer unique options.

Hospice Circle of Love

Chad Caldwell, executive director of Hospice Circle of Love, said there are specific Medicare guidelines by which every Hospice must abide.

“We are one of the oldest in the state, since 1983,” said Julie Nelson, public relations director for Circle of Love. She said the staff believes the non-profit organization is a community partner with no other agenda except caring for people.

To qualify for hospice care, an individual must be diagnosed with a terminal disease with six months or less to live. They may die in three weeks or three years but will continue to have the care, Nelson said.

“We concentrate on quality of life,” she said.

Hospice encourages people to maximize their lives and do whatever they want and are able to do.

“We provide the highest quality care, and the family is never charged anything,” Caldwell said.

Recent health care changes have mandated cuts in hospice funding throughout the next seven years, which will make it more difficult for the companies. Caldwell said it will be a challenge, but he believes companies like his will find ways to be efficient. Larger cities will be less affected than smaller communities due to cuts in reimbursement in those areas.

Meanwhile services continue as they have for years.

“We provide a variety of services,” Caldwell said. “It’s not just about helping the patient but their families.”

Nurse aides focus on physical care, hygiene needs and daily pain medication management. They check in with the patient regularly, he said.

“It gives the patient someone to talk to and the family. Even after a person passes away we keep in contact with the family,” Caldwell said. They use licensed counselors to tend to physical, spiritual and emotional needs.

Ross Health Care

Hank Ross, owner of Ross Health Care, said when hospice first became available it was not covered by Medicare, but through public need it became so. He said everyone is eligible for the same end-of-life care.

“Since then, there has been an expansion of services across the U.S. They are all paid the same amount of money. They are no different and provide about the same charity care,” he said.

A major difference in for-profit versus not-for-profit is the former pays taxes locally.

Kristi Browne said all hospice services provide care outlined in Medicare’s guide. Ross also provides families bereavement help after death.

“We give them the highest possible quality of life,” Browne said of the patients. “People think hospice is giving up, but that isn’t what it is. It’s being able to give the highest possible quality of life for the terminally ill.”

Studies show those utilizing hospice live longer, she said. It’s a new level of palliative care.

Browne said one struggle is people wait too late.

“People are often scared of hospice because they don’t know the full level of what the service can provide. It’s all about the quality of life,” Browne said.

Carter Health Care

Carter Health Care in Enid also offers hospice services on a for-profit basis. That means they never charge the patient or family, follow Medicare rules, are reimbursed by Medicare and pays taxes that support the community.

Carter provides a ministry, according to spokeswoman Shelly Stuchman, in addition to physician-directed end-of-life care, professional hospice nurses who specialize in pain and symptom management, certified home health aides, special services assistance, spiritual and pastoral support, bereavement counseling, and volunteer assistance.

Hospice also can provide some home medical equipment, supplies and medicine.