Hospice care

Gabrielle Jansen / The Outlook IChasity Abram, of Ivy Creek Hospital, talks about hospice care.

Many people think hospice is only for those who are in their final days but one local healthcare group said it is about improving the quality of life for patients and making the most of the time they have left.  

Chasity Abram and Heidi Smith from Ivy Creek Healthcare spoke about the hospital’s home health and hospice services Thursday at the Dadeville Kiwanis Club. 

“There’s a lot of misinterpretations of hospice,” Abrams said.  “I always tell people, ‘It’s really not about how many more days you have left; it’s about how you spend those days.’”

Hospice provides care and support to terminally ill patients and their families.

Most hospice patients have limited life expectancies as they face diseases such as AIDS, cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s, Abram said.

Hospice patients can live up to a year or two with hospice care and those who use hospice live longer than those who don’t, according to Abrams. 

Ivy Creek hospice nurses provide care in homes and at nursing homes and have different training from nursing home nurses.

“We’re going to try to keep you energized and give you the good quality of life,” Abram said. 

Hospice provides patients with medicines they need in case of emergencies because the goal is to keep patients from constantly going in and out of the hospital.

“I always tell people when I admit them, ‘We’re going to bring the hospital bed to you,’” Abram said. “‘We’re going to put the emergency medicines to you.’ We don’t want to wait until 2 o’clock in the morning running to an emergency lockbox and we try to put the medicines there.”

Hospice patients can still see doctors and receive additional treatments for other ailments, such as broken bones.

“There’s so much you can still do,” Abram said. “Hospice is not going to stop you or limit you and it’s not a permanent contract.”

Smith explained home health is different than hospice.

Home healthcare is restorative, for all ages and less acute than hospice, such as taking care of someone who had a bad case of the flu, according to Smith. It can also include speech, occupational and physical therapy.

“Home health is typically temporary and you have to be (re-evaluated if you need it after healing),” Smith said.

Smith hopes there will be more quality nurses in home health in 2021 and 2022.