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Hospice brings new light to terminal illness health care

Auburn hosts seminar bringing awareness to hospice
By: Alex Mecredy Journal Correspondent
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A seminar held in Auburn attempted to take the fear and anxiety out of the experience of hospice for patients and their families. The seminar took place Thursday at the Emeritus Senior Living Center. Five panel members consisting of two nurses experienced in hospice care, a hospital chaplain or a spiritual care support, a social worker and a mother who has had first hand experience with hospice while caring for her terminally ill son were present to inform the audience of the process and questions. Each panel member shared their experience with the process. Panelist said most of the public assumes the worst upon hearing the word hospice when it actually provides comfort and support. The first speaker was a woman, Chrissy Beadles, who went through the struggle of losing her son ? who was only 26 ? due to a traumatic brain injury. Her son, James Boody, collided with his friend in a dirt bike accident. ?He wasn?t supposed to live but he proved them wrong for 11 and a half years,? Beadles said. Over those years, Boody was in three different hospice programs. His mother had a realization making it clear that it was time for her son to stop going through painful treatments and find comfort in the time he had left. ?I came to the conclusion he wasn?t going to get better. It was time for hospice. They take quality of life into consideration and what he would have wanted,? Beadles said. She expressed how much it meant to her that the entire hospice team was present with her at the time of her son?s death. She and her son had both become very attached to the team members. Even today, two months after her son passed away, a bereavement counselor from hospice still visits Beadle once a week. ?He doesn?t need hospice anymore but boy I do,? she said. ?A lot of people feel like hospice is a final diagnosis, that you are going to die but in my experience and this happens a lot, people who are declining get such great care that they graduate from hospice. I?ve seen people graduate two or three times and live years beyond the initial prognosis,? said Nurse and Resident Care Director Leisha Flores. Flores explained that hospice is ?Not doing a bunch of procedures to prolong life, just trying to make the rest of their life as comfortable as possible and provide them with as much dignity as you can. I think a lot of it has to do with just letting go and realizing this is a part of life.? The Rev. Doctor Judith Pruess-Mellow, a chaplain, explained the ways in which a hospice team would provide support by offering their way of ?listening and helping them navigate fears and thoughts during this period of their lives.? In addition to ensuring comfort for the patient, the hospice team also provides services for the families of the patient as well by giving them support and advice. Families should ?use this as a time of doing life review to bring up memories that are special, to help the person who is passing on to get in touch with the gratitude they feel for times in their lives and also to get in touch with negative feelings like anxiety and fears and finish up any business,? said Pruess-Mellow. Most insurance plans cover the cost of hospice. But according to nurse and seminar coordinator Sara Bird if a terminal patient doesn?t have insurance, Medicare or MediCal usually covers the treatment. Even if the insurance coverage the patient has only covers a portion of the cost, hospice generally waives the rest of the expenses. Bird even spoke of a time where hospice ?provided a washer and dryer (for a family with a hospice patient) during the midst of a really hard time.? Social worker Michael Tsheu added a comforting statement to the end of the seminar giving the audience more peace of mind about the procedures of hospice by saying ?It is more of a dimmer light than it is an on and off switch.?