Hospice celebrates 30 years of service in St. Lawrence Valley, named one of top 100 agencies for care satisfaction
Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 6:05 am

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the “Progress 2014” section of North Country This Week.

In 2013, Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley celebrated 30 years of dedicated service to the community providing end of life care for hospice patients, palliative care for patients who are still seeking curative treatments for their illness and bereavement support for patients, families and other residents of St. Lawrence County grieving the loss of a loved one.

Hospice SLV was named a 2013 Hospice Honors recipient, established by Deyta, a Kentucky-based organization that specializes in healthcare satisfaction and quality measurement, this prestigious annual honor recognizes the top 100 agencies that continuously provide the highest level of satisfaction through their care as measured from the caregiver’s point of view.

Deyta used the Family Evaluation of Hospice Care (FEHC) survey results from over 1,200 partnering hospice agencies contained in its national database. Additionally, Hospice was awarded the North Country Citation presented by St. Lawrence University to an individual or organization which works to improve quality of life for area residents.

Hospice staff cared for 492 patients, providing 28,589 days of service. One hundred patients (25%) served last year were Veterans. On average, 77 patients were served each day at home, in nursing homes and hospitals throughout St. Lawrence County. Family members are an essential part of the care giving team. Support is provided for the family caregivers emotionally and physically, so that their health is not also compromised.

Plans of care are based not only on what the patient needs, but also on the needs and capabilities of family members. Social workers, counselors and chaplains are available to help family members as they process the powerful issues that often arise when a loved one is seriously ill.

When a loved one dies, HPCSLV staff provides grief support through counseling, educational materials, support groups and volunteer bereavement assistance. In 2013, over 1,000 people received bereavement care. Counselors provided support for several county schools and local colleges following the deaths of teachers and students. Support for schools has increased as Hospice has continued to provide training for faculty and staff throughout the county.

HPCSLV’s Home Support Program partnered with the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization to form the North Country Care Transition Program. NCCTP provides palliative care for eligible Medicare FFS patients with the goal of lowering hospital readmission rates for patients diagnosed with a chronic illness. The program provides 30 days of follow up support with a Care Transitions Coach, educates the patient on the disease process and assists with symptom management.

A key to the success of the program has been the collaboration with Massena Memorial, Claxton-Hepburn, and Canton-Potsdam Hospitals. A total of 153 patients received services through the Care Transition program. In the coming year, the Palliative Care Program will expand services to include patient consultations in homes, hospitals and at the new Palliative Care Center.

Like hospice care, this care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists who work together with each patient’s primary physician to provide an extra layer of support while they seek a cure. This specialized care is centered around the goals of the patient and family to improve quality of life with a serious illness.

HPCSLV staff reached out to the community in a number of ways in 2013. Last year, hundreds of people attended educational and support programs sponsored by Hospice. The Community Educator has increased stops at health fairs and community organization meetings to increase awareness about the services Hospice offers and to provide caregiver education. Educational presentations are available for any county group or organization.

A critical aspect of the care provided by Hospice comes from volunteers. Last year, volunteers made more than 1,300 visits and drove tens of thousands of miles to every corner of St. Lawrence County to meet with their patients. Hospice volunteers also provide help with administrative tasks, mailings and office work, as well as help with special events.

Community support is essential to helping Hospice provide compassionate care to the community through financial contributions. In 2013, 78 people participated in Swim a Mile for Hospice and raised more than $27,000 to support Hospice services. The community also showed overwhelming support pledging just over $12,500 for services during the annual Hospice Radiothon. Tastes of Autumn, the annual gourmet brunch was well attended and participants gave generously.

A variety of fundraisers organized by community groups also provided needed support. The Motorcycle Run to Benefit Hospice was organized again by Roger and Linda Willmart, Community Bank’s summer golf tournament had a great turn out and the Parishville AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary celebrated 10 years of their Walk- A- Thon to support Hospice. Thanks to community support, essential services, including bereavement and spiritual care, palliative care and personal care which are not completely covered by insurance, are available to members of the community when they need it.

Hospice staff appreciates the opportunity to care for members of the St. Lawrence County community. For information about any of Hospice’s services please visit www.seriousillness.org/slc.