HOSPICE: Hospice of Chattanooga has all local staff

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 3/24/19

The Cleveland branch of Hospice of Chattanooga  serves to care for loved ones toward the end of their lives. The local office has scored significantly higher than the national scores for hospice …

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HOSPICE: Hospice of Chattanooga has all local staff

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The Cleveland branch of Hospice of Chattanooga  serves to care for loved ones toward the end of their lives. The local office has scored significantly higher than the national scores for hospice on  quarterly scores for 2018.

Cleveland program director Leslie Painter explained a common misconception about hospice care is it’s expensive.

“Hospice is normally less expensive than conventional care during the last six months of life,” Painter said. “It’s not expensive. It’s actually funded through your Medicare benefit. If I had a loved one or parent who needed hospice, it’s covered 100 percent.”

Hospice care in the U.S. is for people who are diagnosed with a life expectancy of six months or less. While care can continue for more than six months, this life expectancy must be included in the diagnosis to receive care.

This care is implemented by a team consisting of a physician, nurse, aide, social worker, chaplain and volunteers.

Common hospice diagnoses include cancer, congestive heart failure/heart disease; COPD/pulmonary disease; dementia/Alzheimer’s disease; liver disease; neurological disease/stroke; and renal disease.

There are certain indicators that determine whether a patient may be hospice-eligible. Some of these include recurrent multiple infections, multiple ER visits or hospitalizations, increasing shortness of breath, skin breakdown and several others.

Another common misconception surrounding hospice is those on hospice must be transferred to a separate facility for care, which is a myth.

Painter explained Hospice of Chattanooga has numerous patients living in Garden Plaza, Legacy Village and other assisted living facilities, who live happy, independent lives while also receiving care.

“We often have more than one or two patients at these places, so we’ll go and do activities with them whether it be crafts, reading or music,” Painter said.

The Cleveland office for Hospice of Chattanooga has been here for 11 years, and is a not-for-profit hospice. As a whole, the organization has existed for 35 years.

While most patients are typically 16 years of age or older, pediatric hospices do exist, with one being at the Cleveland location. The organization as a whole actually has 12 pediatric patients at the moment.

For the Cleveland location, it’s incredibly proud of its data scores for 2018, which put it higher than the national average.

“That is quite the feather in our cap because it means we’re doing everything right. We’re higher than the national average on getting timely care, treating family members with respect, getting help with symptoms and numerous other areas,” she added.

According to Painter, patients on hospice live longer than those in similar situations who aren’t on hospice, which she attributes to the improved quality of life provided by hospice workers.

Hospice care doesn’t only apply to those with Medicare, as those without it can still pay for the care. If a patient is indigent, their hospice care is funded through Hospice of Chattanooga’s foundation. If someone is low-income, then they simply pay on a sliding scale based on what they can afford.

“Something I always say is that when Hospice of Chattanooga makes a profit, rather than that profit going to shareholders, the money goes directly back into patient care,” Painter said.

Hospice of Chattanooga raises funds through various events such as its Chef Showdown, which raises money for indigent care in Bradley and Polk counties. The company recently held another fundraiser called Journey with all money going to benefit the Kangaroo Kids Pediatric Program. Events such as these also help pay for one of the most costly expenditures: prescription medicines.

In addition to its regular and pediatric care, the company also offers a Palliative Care Division, which serves patients who are not yet hospice appropriate who have a life expectancy of 18 months or less with a goal of symptom management.

Hospice of Chattanooga currently serves 22 counties in Tennessee, Georgia and, most recently, North Carolina, which allows for a wide range of care across the board.

Painter said one of its biggest strengths is all their staff are local, meaning doctors or nurses are always at hand and don’t have to drive a significant distance to care for patients.

The company also offers bereavement support, meaning staffers stay in contact with the family of a lost loved one. It also hosts support groups once per month in the office, along with a veteran-to-veteran pinning service.

“Here at Hospice of Chattanooga, we have over 100 combined years of experience among our staff. I’d like to encourage everyone to learn about what hospice is, and see the difference Hospice of Chattanooga can make in your family’s life,” Painter said.

Hospice of Chattanooga is located at 2145 Keith St.

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www.hospiceofchattanooga.com 

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