By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Several area agencies provide hospice services to ensure quality of life for patients who are terminally ill or at the end of their lives.
Hospice service offers an alternative to aggressive treatments and provides emotional, and sometimes spiritual, support for patients and their families.
Circle of Love
This year, Hospice Circle of Love is celebrating an important anniversary.
For 30 years, the facility’s staff and volunteers have helped terminally ill patients make every day count.
The not-for-profit organization was started in 1983 by a group of community leaders. They were familiar with the hospice concept and believed there was a need for such a service in this area.
Following several brown bag lunches, volunteers were trained, office space was donated and a nurse was hired. Six patients were served in the organization’s first year. One paid employee and several volunteers ran the operation.
In 1986, the organization was Medicare-certified. Aides, social workers and counselors were hired. Over the years, chaplain and music therapy services were added. Today, Circle of Love has 26 employees and 32 volunteers.
Registered Nurse Lenora Beckwith, who has been with Circle of Love for 10 years, said she can’t imagine doing anything else.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had. Hospice is extremely rewarding because of the people,” Beckwith said. “Our staff is truly a team. We are here for the patient’s benefit.”
The hospice team provides a variety of services such as pain and symptom management, bed baths, counseling, pet therapy and spiritual and emotional support.
In addition, hospice supplies patients with medications and medical equipment related to their terminal illness. Hospice accepts Medicare and some insurance policies.
Circle of Love utilizes money from memorials and fundraisers to serve those who don’t have benefits at no charge.
The organization has donated more than $2.5 million in free care since it began in 1983.
“As a not-for-profit organization, we exist solely to support those in need,” Circle of Love Director Chad Caldwell said. “Our goal is to help patients make every day count.
“We really focus on quality of life.”
Hospice Circle of Love has served more than 4,000 patients throughout the last three decades.
“We feel honored to have helped so many patients and families at such an important time in their lives,” Caldwell said.
Carter Healthcare Inc. also provides hospice services for communities surrounding its Enid office, as well as patients in Enid.
“We have nurses stationed through out the various counties that help us provide quality care to patients in the outlying areas such as Okeene, Fairview, Blackwell,” said Tina Morton, director of marketing and licensed clinical social worker. “Part of the beauty of working in our field is we start where we live and head out from there.”
She said Carter provides registered nurse and licensed practical nurse teams trained in symptom management, as well as home health-aide services.
“Our goal in 2013 is to really reach out more in the Enid community and surrounding areas so they have a better understanding of Carter, in particular the services Carter can provide,” Morton said.
She said one of Carter’s goals is to improve the understanding of what hospice can do for patients and families.
“We are just the highest level of home care insurance will afford a family,” Morton said, “especially when they don’t want to pursue aggressive care.”
Chaplain Ron Stone has worked with Carter for almost six years. Medicare requires a spiritual adviser in Hospice work, but Stone said he fills multiple roles for patients as a chaplain.
“I go in and just visit with the family and the patients to find out where they are spiritually,” he said. “A lot of time on my first visit we don’t even touch on religious things. We talk about family and the patient’s life.”
He said as a chaplain, he helps gather information about the patient, and if they have spiritual needs not provided by their church he helps guide them.
“It’s more about comfort care,” Stone said. “If it’s words of comfort they need, we provide that. If it’s medication they need for comfort, we provide that.”
Hospice care doesn’t just focus on the patient it focuses on the family.
“A lot of times we just ... provide a listening ear,” Stone said. “I find that I get into a lot of homes that some ministers don’t have the opportunity to get into. That provides spiritual care as they need it.”
Stone said he’s been involved in church ministry for 22 years.
“I had a friend who was a hospice chaplain in the same position I’m in right now,” Stone said. “After hearing him talk about that a couple of times I asked him what I had to do to get into that.”
Stone joined Carter Healthcare Inc. as a chaplain in Bartlesville and later transferred to the Enid office.
“Things just worked out,” he said. I kind of fell into the position, a position I feel like God was preparing me for for 22 years.”
Stone said he wants people to know hospice care is about comfort for the patient.
“A lot of people are reluctant to put a loved one on hospice because they’re afraid it signals the end,” he said. “Anything we do does not make the end come sooner. It’s going to come at the same time. We provide care and comfort in the final months of life.”
Stone said there always will be a stigma around hospice care, especially around the holidays.
“A lot of time we can provide comfort, and sometimes the comfort we provide can prolong life and give families time for closure,” he said. “We try to bring them together at the end.”
Ross Health Care
Ross Health Care is one of the state’s largest homecare organizations with offices in Enid, Oklahoma City, Chickasha and Lawton.
President Hank Ross said the organization has been in Enid for about eight years.
“We offer hospice care seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” he said.
Ross said hospice care can last anywhere from a few days to years, depending on the patient. He said those who typically receive hospice care are those who are terminally ill and have a life expectancy of six months or less.
“The biggest complaints we get in hospice care is people said we wish we’d known about it earlier,” he said. “Hospice care is not about giving up, it’s just a different level of care. We address a vast majority of issues not just for the patient but for the family.”
He said hospice care is a benefit covered 100 percent by Medicare, but about two-thirds of those eligible do not use it.
“Only about 35 percent of people who have the hospice benefit through Medicare utilize it,” Ross said, adding he expects that number to rise. “It’s a fast-growing part of Medicare benefits.”
He said he thinks hospice care is an area of service that will continue to grow.
“It’s the best level of care for the patient at that time,” Ross said. “We don’t want people to die in pain. We give them the comfort level they deserve.
“We need help coming into this world, and we need a little help going out.”