For the last 20 years, Hospice Care in Douglas County has provided comfort and care to thousands of terminally ill patients in their final days of life. It's a rewarding yet often emotional job for the team of volunteers, nurses, social workers and chaplains who dedicate their time to help the dying live what is left of their life to the fullest.
Nadereh Nasseri, patient care coordinator for Hospice Care in Douglas County, said a group of concerned citizens got the ball rolling a quarter-center ago.
"A group of local physicians, nurses and social workers decided that Lawrence needs a hospice," she said. "After many years of getting together, discussing why and how, hospice was formed."
Hospice provides palliative or comfort care, which focuses on life rather than death.
"When a physician acknowledges that the disease is no longer curable, then we switch hats," Nasseri said.
Instead of fighting the illness, patients embrace life and spend their remaining days with family and friends.
"We focus on love, family, connection, comfort, home, beauty, art, spirituality, emotional health," she said. "It's not always rosy. We want it to be, but it's not that way all the time. But whatever it is, it's meaningful for the family and the patient. We're there to make sense out of all of that, help them and support them."
Nasseri, who has worked with hospice and Douglas County Visiting Nurses Assn. for 12 years, said losing patients is never easy.
"Today we lost a very good friend, a patient that was an artist and he was a great painter," she said.
The patient suffered from a respiratory illness.
"All he wanted was to die at home with his beautiful art with his oil paintings in his gallery," she said. "His family, his caregivers and hospice provided that opportunity."
It's important that people accept the fact that death is just as natural as birth, Nasseri said.
"Sometimes I think we have a resistance to plan for our death," she said. "However, if you don't plan, your wishes may never be carried out."