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Good Shepherd, Hospices Join to Help Residents

October 3, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Wheeling has contracted with two area hospice organizations to provide care for its residents with life-limiting illnesses and for their families.

Good Shepherd Administrator Don Kirsch said the nursing home has entered a partnership with Valley Hospice and Amedisys Hospice to provide additional care for patients as they near the end of life.

"We are proud that our staff has always provided excellent care for all our residents," Kirsch said. "The addition of hospice services will enable us to add another layer of specialized services for our residents and assist the family members of our patients who are facing serious illnesses."

Article Photos

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Meeting to discuss hospice services at Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Wheeling are, seated from left, Ann Stephens, Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care account executive, and Cynthia Bougher, Valley Hospice chief executive officers. Good Shepherd representatives are, standing from left, Tawnya Knierim, director of social services and admissions, and social workers Dianna Harris and Joyce Rose.

Hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance policies so the services will be provided at no additional cost to residents.

Kirsch said the partnership is an example of Good Shepherd's continuing commitment to improving the quality of life of its residents.

The hospice philosophy encompasses the belief that every person deserves a decent life and a peaceful death in an atmosphere of respect, compassion and dignity. Hospice nurses, social workers, aides, chaplains, physicians and volunteers work together with facility staff to provide symptom management and support for those afflicted with and affected by advanced illness.

Tawnya Knierim, Good Shepherd director of social services and admissions, said the nursing home staff already provides good end-of-life care by integrating residents' medical, emotional and spiritual care.

"Hospice will offer specialized expertise that will augment the care we're already providing," she said. The relationship with hospice providers also will assist families, who often lose their support system of the nursing home staff when their loved one dies. Hospice offers bereavement services for families for a year after the death of a loved one.

Patients and their families experience the greatest benefits from hospice care when it is accessed early. Many people hesitate to involve hospice in a family member's care for fear of alarming the patient, or because they're in denial about the seriousness of the person's illness. Studies show that as many as two-thirds of who are eligible for hospice care aren't getting it - which means they are missing the opportunity to benefit from comprehensive physical, emotional and spiritual support for themselves and their families.

Because Good Shepherd nurses, social workers and other professionals work closely with patients and their doctors, they're in a good position to recommend hospice involvement when it would best benefit a patient. The decision to access hospice services will be made by each patient and his or her personal physician.

Cynthia Bougher, Valley Hospice chief executive officer, said she is pleased to work with Good Shepherd. "Our board of trustees, our staff and I are excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with the staff of Good Shepherd to provide excellent end-of-life care to their residents."

Bill Borne, chairman and chief executive officer of Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care, agreed. "Hospice care is one of the most valuable, patient-centered support services for people who are facing end-of-life challenges and is a tremendous support system for their families as well," Borne said. "We are honored to be selected as a hospice care partner for Good Shepherd Nursing Home in serving the Wheeling community."

Good Shepherd Nursing Home, located at 159 Edgington Lane in Wheeling, is a private, nonprofit nursing home operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. It was established in 1970 to provide long-term care and services to older residents of West Virginia's Northern Panhandle and contiguous counties in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The 175,000-square-foot building is home to 192 residents.

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