*This story first appeared in The Budget’s March 14, 2018, Local Edition.
By Stacey Carmany
LifeCare Hospice has moved its base of operations in Holmes County but the level of compassionate care provided to area patients and their families remains unchanged.
In February, LifeCare completed the move of its Millersburg office from a former storefront on South Washington Street to a larger and more prominent space on Glen Drive, beneath Family Eyecare Associates.
“We’re more available, I think, to the community with the location,” explained Melissa Elswick, community liaison for LifeCare Hospice.
LifeCare Hospice is a local non- profit dedicated to providing comfort and compassionate care to patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families. Its service area includes Wayne and Holmes counties.
The new space will serve as the base of operations for the organization’s in-home services in Holmes County and offer on-site bereavement counseling and services for anyone in the community experiencing the impact of serious illness and loss.
“I think that it gives our staff the space that they need to really do their jobs well, to prepare and be able to go out,” said Christy Michaels, director of clinical operations for LifeCare Hospice. “I think that it is a very professional space and in a professional building.”
Michaels noted that the space was completely remodeled to include a warm and welcoming reception area, private and comfortable bereavement and conference rooms, and plenty of office space.
“It’s fabulous,” said Chaplain Ginger Pflueger. “It’s just such a nice place to have the Holmes County folks come.”
Michaels shared that the organization is extremely grateful to the owner of the building, optometrist Dr. James Conway, for his willingness to customize the space. “Dr. Conway was amazing to work with in terms of finishing out this space and making it what we needed it to be,” she said.
While the new building may be a perfect fit for the LifeCare’s needs in Holmes County, Elswick noted the organization’s mission is not driven by its facilities but by its team of dedicated staff members and community volunteers. “We have a new house but the heart’s still the same,” she shared.
In-home services are offered by the organization to individuals living in private residences, assisted-living facilities, and nursing homes and provided by a team of professional staff members and community volunteers who work collectively to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of each individual patient. “It’s not just one person that visits,” Elswick explained. “It’s a whole team.”
Each in-home team includes a registered nurse, who serves as a case manager and visits patients regularly to monitor medications and ensure patients are comfortable and able to function at the highest level possible. In addition to a nurse, each team includes a hospice aide who assists with activities such as bathing and personal care. An LPN is also available to assist the nurse with patient visits.
Also on the team is a social worker who works to connect patients and their caregivers with resources and support. “It’s basically just providing emotional support for families, making sure as they work through learn- ing of their loved one’s terminal diagnosis, acknowledging the losses that they have with that, making sure they have the resources they need to care for their loved one in whatever setting they choose,” explained Lisa Mast, LifeCare’s full-time social worker for Holmes County.
Another team member, the hospice chaplain, provides spiritual support to patients and their families. “Our goal in hospice is to help our patients and their families through that process of finding out the news, coping with it, moving through the feelings that you have when you receive that news, then to a new place of acceptance,” Pflueger explained.
Volunteers also play an important role in patient care by providing companionship to the patient and occasional respite breaks to caregivers. “About 90 percent of our volunteer work is directly with patients and families,” said Volunteer Coordinator Rebecca McCurdy. “The patients that we serve, we can’t extend the quantity of life that they have but we can try to make every day as good as it can be.”
To learn more about LifeCare Hospice services or volunteer opportunities, call 1-800-884-6547.