Todays hospice provides care and comfort to dying patients and their families on many levels.
Time, touch and truth are the three areas we address said chaplain David Webster, with Carter Hospice/Healthcare.
"There's just something in the human touch. We will hold a hand, pat their shoulder," Webster said. "And we show patients we have time for them, and they can count on us being truthful."
Spiritual counseling, prayer and support is provided to the patient and their families in homes and facilities where the patient is placed. Bereavement counseling is provided to the families after the patient passes for 13 months.
"It's a blessing to me to see the patient go from where they are to a place where they achieve a pain-free and peaceful passing in the comfort of their home surrounded by family," Webster said.
There is much more to hospice than once thought, said, April Moore, RN-Patient Care Coordinator for Hospice of the Cherokee for four years.
"I wish people knew how much quality of life is brought about from hospice. That at some point in our lives our focus changes from quantity to quality," Moore said. "Hospice does not put someone in a bed with medications and leave them there, we want the patient to have the quality and dignity, to do the things they enjoy as long as they can, to spend time with their loved ones."
Working in Hospice can be hard at times, hospice staff have to grieve as well when a patient is lost, Moore said.
"At the end when you know you have done everything your patient wished and you allowed a comfortable dying process for you patient and their loved ones you go home with a happy heart. Holding their hand when they take their last breath, it’s breathtaking."
Clinical Coordinator for Tahlequah, Tulsa and Bartlesville with Carter Hospice/Healthcare, Lindsey Dillard has been a nurse for nine years, with the last four years working in hospice.
"From the very first day I began training as a hospice nurse, I was impressed with the multidisciplinary team approach to health care, and the "holistic" way hospice approached terminal illness. We meet people, not just our patient's but their families as well, where they are, and work with them side by side, to be a source of guidance and support for them until they draw their last breath," Dillard said.
Hospice is a benefit intended for the "last six months of life " Dillard said. It is most appropriate for a person who is no longer a candidate for aggressive, taxing therapy that is not effective, and has decided to live out every day they have left with as much comfort and dignity as possible.
"It is not about "giving up" but rather taking charge of your own body and choosing comfort and quality over number of days," Dillard said.
Common fears of patients are if the actual death itself will be painful, if they will be aware of what is happening, and how long it might take, said Dillard.
"We have found that when appropriate care is initiated and support given- hospice as it is intended- that the physical act of dying can be not only without discomfort but even peaceful and can provide a sense of control over the entire situation- even though they did not choose the outcome of death, the manner in which they approached it and the way it came to pass was, in many regards on their own terms," Dillard said. "We understand that some things cannot and should not be medicated away, so we make a concerted effort to address all aspects of a person- physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological."
The team here at Carter has a same general philosophy regarding terminal illness, said Dillard.
"Death is a natural part of life. It does not have to be feared. When the time comes and our patient is passing we make a concerted effort to remove unnecessary medical equipment, lower the rails on the bed, ensure a favorite blanket or other item is visible to the patient- we strive to make the environment as peaceful and warm and familiar as possible or at the very least do all we can to avoid the scene looking like a cold, sterile space invaded with modern equipment and strangers. We encourage family to sit with them, hold hands, or simply be with them for the time they have left."
Be present, be supportive but let the patient make the decisions said Vicki C Baker, MD Medical Oncologist at the Warren Oncology Clinic in Tahlequah.
"It is ok to ask the hard questions and to talk about mortality. It is a universal experience and should not be taboo. Allow the patient to talk about their fears, including fear of dying. To deny that conversation is a huge source of stress to patients who want to process through it," Baker said. "Recognize that to comfort a patient may be more meaningful than treatment, particularly if that treatment is futile."
Allowing a patient to talk about their life, their regrets and the way they want the end of their life to be will result in easing anxiety for all, Baker said.
"Patients have made lovely videos, written letters to loved ones, even future grandchildren that will mean so much," Baker said. "I had a patient who loved to hunt with his sons and he found a company to put his ashes in shotgun shells and his boys “went hunting” with their dad one last time. It was so touching to see how much that meant to him and them."
There are no easy ways or “right” words to say, Moore said.
"Everyone grieves in their own time. Hospice allows 13 months for caregivers after their loved one has passed, so they will have the support as they grieve. Spouses and family members need to be educated and aware of the signs related to dying. They also need not be afraid to ask questions or reach out for support," Moore said. "Being surrounded by the patients family/friends and in their own environment is what makes in home hospice beautiful. Death and dying are scary facts of life but we will all be one day faced with it. Being able to hold someone's hand at the end of their journey here makes it all beautiful. To go home each day knowing you allowed for quality of life is the reason we each do hospice."
Todays hospice provides care and comfort to dying patients and their families on many levels.
New opportunity opens door for local pastor
A unique opportunity for ministry training will begin next year in Tahlequah.
The River Ministries will be launching The River Training Center, a complete ministry school. The training center will also perform community outreach and sponsor mission trips, all beginning in January 2015.
The founder of the school, Pastor Brandon Stratton, was raised in Tahlequah and previously pastored Calvary Assembly of God Church.
Presidential terms limited by 22nd Amendment
The past 30 years have been marked by occasional grumbling from one American political party, and celebration from the other - depending on who occupies the White House - about the disqualification of a president after eight years of service.
For much of the nation’s history, a presidency could last indefinitely.
Paperbacks still survive in the digital age
In an era when mobile technology is always at hand, most people can access an electronic book at any time. Such literary luxuries weren’t widely available to previous generations until the dawn of the paperback book.
Wednesday, July 30, is set as a day to celebrate the low-cost, portable book during National Paperback Book Day.
Former resident tapped for national skydiving award
A man known locally for putting Tahlequah on the international map by bringing world-class skydiving events to town is being inducted in the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame in October.
Norman Heaton said he’s very honored to be selected for the prestigious award given to people who have made significant contributions to the sport of skydiving.
Inauguration day changed by 20th Amendment
Sometimes an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution that is uncontroversial and virtually unlitigated.
Such is the 20th Amendment, which moved the seating of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration day to January, and enumerates procedure if a president-elect dies or cannot take office.
Because the “Lame-Duck Amendment” addresses procedure, it is long.
Fashion show to feature local teachers
A fun fashion event that will provide funds for one lucky area school is coming up next weekend.
Local teachers and students have until Tuesday, July 22, to sign up for the Teacher and Student Back 2 School Fashion Show at Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.
TV’s ‘Mistresses’ has second local tie
Tahlequah has at least two ties to the TV drama “Mistresses.”
Local florist Josh Cottrell-Mannon designed the flower arrangements for the show’s season finale, and Arriane Alexander, daughter of local resident Sharilyn Young, is portraying a television news reporter.
Stark enjoys making a difference
Kristin Stark, Sequoyah Elementary Teacher of Year, loves teaching, and has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
“I love making a difference in the lives of children; it is a wonderful feeling to make a positive impact on a child,” said Stark.
Women got the vote with 19th Amendment
During its first 140 years, the United States Constitution underwent a series of changes intended to extend voting rights to those who were not white or didn’t own property - but as the American experiment entered the 20th Century, half the adult population still had no protection to vote.
Though they certainly had political opinions, women could not cast a ballot in most states. That changed with passage of the 19th Amendment.
Cherokee, Tlingit storytellers to share their craft during special NSU event
Two Native American cultures will be represented during a storytelling workshop featuring Cherokee Gayle Ross and Tlingit and Cherokee dancer and storyteller Gene Tagaban, of Seattle.
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