Compassion, listening, expertise, and caring are the core competencies of any hospice program. When these components are aligned with hands-on end-of-life care, comfort and peace-of-mind are the result. Grateful families and their loved ones are the beneficiaries. In our region, the new name, Carolina Caring, is an important change that has been made to an already excellent organization, Catawba Regional Hospice, whose services have improved the lives of thousands of our families, friends, and neighbors for the past forty years. “We’re still the same organization,” said David Cook, CEO of Carolina Caring. “And we believe our new name better reflects who we are. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with is pleased with our new name—it raises the question, ‘What is this about?’ We’re always glad to share our story.”
Carolina in the new name places not only this organization’s location but also its reach. “Our service area includes 12 North Carolina counties that surround Catawba County,” David explained. “With this large footprint, it’s critical that we aspire to our vision to be ‘the most valued and preferred resource to patients, families, and partners in the communities we serve.’ All of our healthcare providers, staff, administrators, and volunteers live this vision every day…and they deliver world-class performance through continual learning, best practices, and innovation. It’s who we are.”
Caring is both an adjective and a verb in the new name. The organization exemplifies caring through its mission to enhance living. Without active and focused caring on everyone’s part, the organization wouldn’t survive, nor would it have an extraordinary 40-year legacy to celebrate this year. “Our team understands the uplifting effect of caring in everything we do,” Jason Meyer, marketing director, told me. “Our menu of services is more than most people probably know about, but when families experience any one of them, they feel the caring our people bring into their lives.” Every day.
PROGRAMS OF CARE
“Healthcare needs are different today than when we started in 1978,” David shared. “We’re living longer through advancements in healthcare. At the same time, we’re living with more chronic conditions and unique health situations. Modern life has changed the way we live, and hospice and palliative care have changed the way we manage disease and end-of-life needs. We’re here to support patients and families in all stages of these transitions.”
Feeling comfortable and at ease in daily living are the goals of Carolina Caring’s palliative medicine program. For people of any age living with chronic conditions, such as COPD, heart, kidney, or liver disease, dementia, cancer, recurring pneumonia, and other illnesses, palliative medicine is a godsend. Compassionate caregivers provide support in managing existing medical care. Comments like this are common: “We had so many questions, and you took the time to answer every one!”
Many people don’t know very much about palliative care, but this critical healthcare service can mean the difference between suffering and comfort. Palliative medicine provides care and support for those not eligible for hospice services. Palliative care can begin with a diagnosis and continue throughout treatment. “Our treatment plans are developed working closely with the doctor and are based on the individual person and their condition,” Scott Lofland, director of palliative care operations, told me. “We help manage and treat physical symptoms caused by your illness, and our caregivers are very helpful to support emotional, social, or spiritual issues you and your family have, as well.” Patients and families who have need for a better quality of life, to help make important medical decisions, or to reduce trips to the ER or hospital stays should contact Carolina Caring earlier rather than later. Patients can receive care in Carolina Caring’s medical clinics or at home, in a nursing home, or hospital.
Unfortunately, there’s a misunderstanding out there that hospice care is only for someone at death’s door; that you wouldn’t want hospice care because it’s just for patients without hope, and once you are enrolled, there’s no going back. That isn’t true. Eligible patients have an advanced illness with a life expectancy of six months or less. These patients want to focus on quality of life rather than curative treatments. If your health improves, you can be discharged, and if you live beyond six months, you can remain in the program.
“People don’t understand that they have earned the right to access this care,” David said. “This is a benefit Medicare provides. We can answer questions and partner with families to manage hands-on solutions, so they don’t have to navigate these circumstances on their own. It’s not easy to do all this for someone you love—we’re here to help in many ways.”
“Both my parents wanted to be at home, and the caregivers we worked with made that happen. It was the very best thing we did,” Beth Huffman told me. “From the first hospice workers we spoke with to those who set everything up for us at home and the people who helped at the end, I can’t compliment them more. They focus on patients first, of course, but the kindness and compassion our family received was a blessing. It’s always hard, but hospice makes it easier.”
Patients can choose which hospice they want to work with. You should select the provider that offers the best care for your needs; you can choose a hospice outside your county of residence. Carolina Caring’s slate of services includes care for people of all ages, including children, those with rare diseases, advance care planning, and weekend admissions. They are nationally accredited with an excellent reputation.
When hospice care cannot be provided at home, a peaceful, home-like setting is the next best place to be. Catawba Valley Hospice House and Sherrills Ford Hospice House are each located in the Foothills of North Carolina, in quiet, rural settings. I was impressed with their charm and comforts of home, as well as state-of-the-art medical care. These locations are staffed with physicians and nurses knowledgeable in hospice and palliative medicine who can help when symptoms can’t be managed at home or when a caregiver needs a break.
WE HONOR VETERANS
Achieving the highest level with the national We Honor Veterans program is a huge achievement, and Carolina Caring has done that. “We make sure our staff understand that end-of-life care for veterans is different,” Jason said. “We have considerable volunteer support for this, and our veterans and their families feel the highest level of compassion and support every day.”
CENTER FOR GRIEF & HEALING
As we know, grief comes in many forms, unique to each of us. Grieving adults and children are cared for in several ways, even people who are not immediately involved with Carolina Caring. “Grief can manifest when something’s lost that is significant in your life,” David explained. “We welcome grieving families in any circumstance. Brighter Days Grief Camp for children and teens is one of our most important community programs.”
Explore all that Carolina Caring does for our communities by visiting www.carolinacaring.org. If someone in your life might benefit from hospice or palliative care, just call. Your questions will be answered, and your decisions will become easier. Most families say, “I wish I’d called sooner.” You can learn a lot just by asking…it could truly change your life.
828.466.0466 • CarolinaCaring.org