For seven years, Sarah Dunham cared for her elderly father in her home. But as Lige Bailey's health continued to deteriorate, Sarah knew she couldn't care for her father in her home any longer. In September 2012 at the age of 103, Lige entered Campbell County Health's Close to Home Hospice House where he would remain until his death in January 2013.
"When someone you love is going through that it's a frightening experience," Sarah said. "At least it was for me."
But the staff and care Lige received at Hospice helped Sarah feel comfortable with her father's end-of-life care. Besides keeping her father comfortable and well-cared for, the staff also helped Sarah understand all that her father was experiencing and supported her through her own grieving process.
"They're just so compassionate," Sarah said. "It's a nice quiet, peaceful, non-threatening place. There was always someone there to talk to and explain what was going on. I knew exactly what to expect."
That's the mission of Hospice – to provide compassionate end-of-life care to patients, as well as kindness and comfort to the patient's loved ones. Hospice care has been available in Campbell County for decades, but the Close to Home Hospice Hospitality House gives people another option for palliative, or comfort care. Close to Home, which opened five years ago, is a project of the
Campbell County Healthcare Foundation, and offers both hospice care and hospitality accommodations. The Hospitality wing provides five rooms with a hotel-like atmosphere for patients receiving healthcare in Campbell County and their families.
"We want patients to have quality of life for the time they have left," said Melisa Haddix, hospice bereavement and social service coordinator. "The families and patients are equal in who we provide services."
When it has been determined that the patient has a life-limiting illness with a life expectancy of six months or less, the patient and their family can choose hospice care. Patients can receive hospice care anywhere they call home or at Close to Home. While it's often difficult for patients and their family members to hear it's time for Hospice care, Melisa said Hospice is there to offer support and quality care during a difficult time.
"With Hospice we can help make their quality of life so much better," Melisa said. "Our nursing staff and medical director are symptom management experts and really help patients determine what's going to help them have the best quality of life for the time they have left."
Hospice provides a team of professionals to make patients and their families comfortable and prepared. From doctors and nursing staff to social workers and spiritual care coordinators, a team of experts surround the patient and family to provide support and guidance during a difficult time.
"It's a team approach from the physicians, CNAs, nursing staff, social services, spiritual leaders, volunteers and others," Melisa said. "We are all an equal part of the team and we meet informally a lot and formally at a minimum of every two weeks."
In addition to direct services to patients, Hospice also offers a number of other services to family members including bereavement group meetings and other supportive care.
"We're an honest group in a caring, compassionate way," Melisa said. "We do a lot of education about coping and the dying process. We don't want anyone caught off guard."
For Melisa, who has worked in Hospice care for 11 years, being able to help guide patients and their families through the dying process is an honor and a privilege. During a personal, difficult time for people, Melisa said she takes comfort in knowing that she can provide quality care to patients and help families prepare and understand their loved ones' death.
"It's a privilege to help someone at the end of their life," Melisa said. "We love helping people be as comfortable and as at peace as possible at the end of their life."
Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer
Interested in volunteering?
In 2016, Campbell County Health hosts a Hospice Volunteer Training on April 25 and 28, and May 2 and 5. Participants must attend all four sessions. Hospice volunteers provide family, spiritual and administrative support, help families with the grief process, and can provide respite care and more in the patient's home, the hospital, long-term facility or the Close to Home Hospice Hospitality House. Those interested in volunteering can download an application at
www.cchwyo.org/volutneer. The application is due April 15, 2016. There is no fee to attend Hospice Volunteer training and dinner is provided at each session. For questions about hospice volunteer training, please call Michele Ridgeway, Volunteer Services Coordinator, at 307.688.1536.