Hospice is one of healthcare’s most important branches — making people with limited life expectancies feel as comfortable as possible. Hearth Hospice is one of several hospice …
Hospice is one of healthcare’s most important branches — making people with limited life expectancies feel as comfortable as possible.
Hearth Hospice is one of several hospice companies in Cleveland. It strives to set itself apart from competitors through its service.
Hearth Hospice physician’s assistant, Dr. Chara McLaughen, goes to meet potential patients, explain the program and services to them and then work to transition the person into hospice care.
“We have the opportunity to give someone comfort, quality of life and familial support during their end of life. Every hospice provides the basic services, but we all expand on those things. Our biggest thing is to give them hope that there’s not going to be a lot of pain or sadness throughout the family. We get to show them what that journey is going to be like,” McLaughen said.
Hospice is typically reserved for someone of 16 years old and above, but there are pediatric hospices for younger patients.
Hospice care involves the basic services like nursing, certified nursing assistance, chaplain services and social worker services, but it also utilizes nurse practitioners and physicians.
McLaughen explained Hearth actually has multiple full-time nurse practitioners on duty at all times, including its administrator, COO and nurse practitioner over admissions.
“This gives us the opportunity to not only provide the basic services our patients need, but also prevent them from waiting for a particular doctor to come. We’ve got those services in-house,” she said.
To qualify for hospice, Medicare guidelines state a person must have a terminal diagnosis that they’ll live for six months or less. Hospice care can extend past six months, but a six-month life expectancy is required in a patient’s diagnosis to qualify.
Hearth Hospice has more than 100 employees company-wide throughout its three branches, including Cleveland, North Georgia and Chattanooga.
Although the Cleveland location has existed for some time, its employees didn’t want to open for business until all disciplines were covered such as medical director, nurses, CNAs, chaplain, etc.
McLaughen said this is because they wanted to be self-sufficient, and didn’t want a Chattanooga worker to have to drive back and forth to Cleveland. Once all positions were filled, the Cleveland branch opened its doors on Aug. 1, 2018.
“The Cleveland office has about 25 employees. We’ve gone through a huge growth spurt and are more than ready to help our community,” she said.
Referrals are made primarily by community physicians, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, who tell Hearth about patients they believe qualify for hospice care.
Hospice is typically a Medicare-covered service, but McLaughen said they see patients with no insurance sometimes, as they aren’t going to tell someone in need of care they can’t have hospice care.
She added being a locally-owned business allows Hearth Hospice to take care of its patients on an individual level. Hearth’s staff even craft a personal care plan for each patient to match their needs, as opposed to what McLaughen calls “cookie-cutter” methods that treat all patients the same.
One of the biggest obstacles hospice workers encounter is educating the public about how hospice isn’t exclusively about the last days of a person’s life, but is instead a full-services program offering numerous other options to make patients happy and comfortable.
“We provide comfort care and bereavement care for the families. We have our chaplains and a bereavement counselor on staff, too, who provides up to 13 months of bereavement counseling after their loved one passes. We also do grief support groups for the patients’ families and the communities, too. These things are necessary for all families,” McLaughen said.
McLaughen encourages everyone to learn more about Hearth and the variety of programs it offers and see the difference their customized care can make.
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