Forrest General Hospice expands services for Pine Belt families | Families
New medical director, inpatient program pave the way for growth
Hospice is a very specialized area of healthcare that may be unfamiliar to many unless they have experienced it first-hand through a family member or friend. However, recent growth of Forrest General’s Hospice service is taking steps to change that. A fresh leadership perspective combined with a program that is increasing awareness for Hospice and how it can help during the most difficult time in a family’s life is making this important service better understood by patients and families alike.
Hospice care is given to patients who have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less if condition runs its normal course, providing comfort and support to the patient and his or her family in their home environment while delivering important medical care and symptom management. Hospice care is traditionally offered in the patient’s home, often after they have been discharged from a stay in the hospital. However, some patients need another option, such as those patients that do not have caregivers that would be able to give up their jobs or feel comfortable providing the kind of care the patient needs, or if they need advanced care for symptom management. As an additional level of Hospice care at Forrest General, patients can receive General Inpatient Hospice services. Instead of receiving Hospice care in their home, GIP patients receive 24-hour care by Forrest General’s nursing staff in the hospital, where their symptoms, such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath or anxiety, can be managed effectively. While this is not a new service at Forrest General, it is one that is growing as more patients are identified as being eligible for the program.
“The GIP program is very effective in helping to increase awareness of what Hospice care is and the benefits it can provide,” said Home Care and Hospice director Melita Miller. “While the main goal of Hospice care is to be able to help patients manage their pain and other symptoms while also allowing them to be with their family at home, there are some patients who need a different level of care. For those who are having difficulty with symptom management or whose home environment would not allow them to receive the best care, we are pleased to be able to offer another option in an inpatient setting.”
In addition to the growth of the GIP program, Forrest General Hospice has also seen a growth in the number of traditional patients receiving Hospice care at home. Hospice staff has worked with physicians and social workers in the communities over the past several months to increase awareness of Hospice benefits. This means that more patients and their families can benefit from this important service, and also measures another step toward achieving a major goal for the Pine Belt area – the construction of a future Inpatient Hospice Home. In order to make sure that the community would support the Inpatient facility, Hospice consultants are currently working on a feasibility study. “An Inpatient Hospice Home is a much needed service for this area,” said Miller. “This would be a separate facility for hospice patients, offering a place where they can receive the same specialized care while providing them and their family members with peace and reassurance in home-like surroundings. We are grateful to Forrest General and the Forrest General Healthcare Foundation for all of the support they have already given toward realizing this dream and are hopeful that this will be made a reality for the Pine Belt area in the future.”
Just as all of the growth around Hospice at Forrest General began, a new physician leader took the helm as Medical Director – Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Lisa Bond, M.D. When Bond’s medical practice partner, Alfonso Willis, M.D., decided to retire as Hospice Medical Director after eight years of service, Bond took interest in the position and began her work at Hospice in December 2011. She sees Hospice as a very important part of the care she delivers to cancer patients on a daily basis. “I have always been a big believer in Hospice,” said Bond. “This Hospice team is outstanding – I have never worked with a team that is so cohesive, caring and loving to patients.” As Medical Director, Bond meets with Hospice staff weekly to discuss patient plans of care and make revisions as needed. She makes home visits, sees GIP Hospice patients, and serves as a liaison with physicians, talking with them about the benefits of Hospice and how to refer patients to the service. Bond, who is also working toward achieving certification as a Palliative Care Physician, hopes to develop a Palliative Care program in the area. Palliative Care specializes in comfort care of patients, helping them with managing symptoms and talking with families about the process of dying and what to expect. Bond is a strong supporter of efforts toward opening the Inpatient Hospice Home in Hattiesburg, and encourages people to make charitable donations toward the project because there is such a desperate need in our community for that type of service.
For more information on Forrest General’s Home Care and Hospice services, call FGH OnCall at 1-800-844-4445 or visit forrestgeneral.com.