By Gregg Scott
Sierra Hospice has an office at 150 Brentwood Drive in Chester, right in front of Seneca Hospital’s main entrance. Judith Lee is the Sierra Hospice Coordinator and Kate McDonald R.N., coordinates the Clinical Operations. Sierra Hospice has been serving the Lake Almanor Basin since 1981 and has been growing their services ever since. With that history in mind, both Lee and McDonald are focusing on community education about hospice care that is available in the local area.
There is quite a difference between traditional and rural hospice care. As outlined by Sierra Hospice, traditional hospice care as defined by Medicare and private insurance companies, states that a patient is considered hospice eligible if they are estimated to have six months or less to live. This is a benefit that is billed to the Center for Medicare & Medical Services or the patient’s private medical insurance. With no traditional hospice coverage in Plumas County, Sierra Hospice, along with Plumas Community Hospice in Quincy and Honey Lake Hospice in Susanville, have been here to fill the gap. Sierra Hospice serves not only Chester, but the Lake Almanor Basin, including Hamilton Branch, Westwood and the Indian Valley.
Lee and McDonald emphasized that it’s very important for a patient to discuss hospice care options with their doctor. Often patients don’t begin hospice care soon enough to take full advantage of the help it can offer. Starting hospice as early as possible may be a way to receive months of meaningful care and quality time with loved ones.
An overall description of hospice care includes focus on not only a patient’s physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual needs as well. Hospice care also prioritizes the comfort and quality of life for each individual. A quick motto might be, “It’s not the quantity of days left, but the quality in those days.” Because Sierra Hospice is not government funded, almost all of their work is volunteer with program costs covered by donations and the proceeds generated by the “Forget me Not” thrift store. Sierra Hospice welcomes volunteers for all aspects of their program.
Lee and McDonald further explained that there are a myriad of ways people can help. Everything from home visits and patient care to clerical work and stocking shelves at the thrift store are all important to a successful hospice program. To that end, all three Plumas/Lassen hospice organizations are hosting a free “Hospice 101” symposium for anyone that might be interested in learning more about what hospice is, or folks wanting to learn more about taking better care of aging family members. The event will review the basics of Hospice Care including patient care, techniques to improve communication skills, and basic symptom management.
“Hospice 101” (Pre-registration is required for attendance)
When: May 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Lake Almanor Clinic Conference Room, 199 Reynolds Road, Chester, CA
REGISTER by calling (530) 258-3412