Hospice Care in Douglas County provides services to people who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting or terminal illness. Its services are available after a physician certifies that a patient has six or fewer months to live. This also signals the end to aggressive medical treatment.
If the illness continues beyond six months, and many do, they can be recertified for continued care. If the patient's health improves vastly, hospice is discontinued.
"We know that some people, after hearing they're available for our care, aren't very excited to see us," said Nadereh Nasseri, Hospice Care in Douglas County's director. "But we're aware of that, and once we explain the various ways we can help them and their family they're very receptive."
The positive nature of hospice carries over in its volunteer services.
"Many of our 65 volunteers we have available have had a family experience with us where they or a grandparent or relative received support during an illness," said Kalyn Diamond, hospice volunteer director.
Hospice patients and their families are provided help from physicians, counselors, nursing aides, clergy, therapists, social workers and nurses.
"We are about palliative care," Nasseri continued. "We are there to provide pain relief and symptom control as opposed to curing the patient."
The patient's family and close friends are important people in the patient's life, so the agency tries to care for them, too. The patient's comfort is a strong consideration, and providing that comfort may involve medications, equipment and other supplies.
Hospice patients are helped with a living will, which serves as the last word as to whether a patient who suffers a heart attack or slips into a coma should be resuscitated. A living will has to be signed by the patient or someone with power of attorney and by the patient's physician.
"Most of the time the patients say, 'I'm not going to come back any different than I am today, and by the time I go through defibrillation and the emergency room experience I might be worse,'" Nasseri said.
"But it's their choice, and whatever that choice may be we are there to help them."