Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

JRMC starts hospice care
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Aug 5, 2013, 11:05

A chair in the infusion room overlooks the Appomattox River.

HOPEWELL — Hospice touches the lives of many in the Tri-Cities area, including John Randolph Medical Center’s newly appointed chief operating officer, Suzanne Jackson. With the expansion of services being offered from Hospice of Virginia at JRMC, as well as an expansion of the infusion services program, even more people in the surrounding areas will be able to seek the help needed for their loved ones.

Sitting in the private family care room on the second floor of the renovated hospice wing of the hospital, Jackson shares how closely she holds hospice to her heart. It started with her father many years ago, suffering an injury from his work at a hospital. Jackson said he was pricked by a needle and from sustaining that injury, Jackson said he developed hepatitis which then morphed into liver cancer over a period of time.

“I always said I was going to come into the hospital and be in a position to be sure the right decisions were made for people,” Jackson said. “That people were not being taken advantage of and that people got the services that they needed. They took advantage of him not being American. They had no responsibility for anything that happened for that injury.”

Jackson said once her father was
diagnosed, her family brought in hospice care. During the time her father was being cared for at the home, the insurance company no longer paid for the services and Jackson said hospice continued their services for free. She wants to bring that same level of care to the patients and families in the surrounding communities.

“I think it’s important. It’s an opportunity to help people who have terminal illnesses, who do not just have cancer,” Jackson said.

The new Hospice of Virginia area of the hospital includes four private rooms and a private family room. Further down the hall is the newly renovated infusion services wing. Though the hospital has offered oncology services and infusion services since 2000, such as chemotherapy, therapeutic phlebotomy and blood transfusions, the new second-floor wing brings all the services together. The wing also boasts renovated rooms, with chairs facing the window, offering patients a view of the river below.

“It will be a wonderful place for patients that will come in for their treatments,” said Pat Steininger, director of Oncology Services at JRMC, during the opening events at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “... We are just so excited to be opening up this new area.”

Vicki Harrison, with Hospice of Virginia, said the new partnership with JRMC will make a big difference for the residents of Hopewell and the surrounding communities.

“I think that the biggest thing we can give the folks in this community is to be able to stay close to home,” Harrison said. “No one wants to travel to Richmond when they’ve got a really sick loved one.”

Hospice of Virginia serves 60,000 patients a year, in 65 counties in Virginia with five branches, one in-patient unit and now with the four-bed cluster on the second floor of JRMC. Currently, Hospice of Virginia is serving 50 patients daily in the Tri-Cities.
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT From left, Suzanne Jackson, John Randolph Medical Center CEO, along with Dr. Karanvir Prakash, Linda Frey, administrative coordinator for the Infusion Center, and Dr. Gohar Abbasi discuss the new changes to the second floor of the hospital.

She also made sure to let those in attendance know hospice does not just treat cancer patients. Harrison said about 40 percent of those treated are cancer patients, with the other 60 percent being comprised of Alzheimer’s, dementia, pulmonary and cardiac issues.

“The cluster of these four in-patient hospice beds are going to allow the compassion to be shared close to home for the people in the Tri-Cities area,” Harrison said. She added the rooms are meant to feel more like home and less like that of a hospital.

Harrison told members of the community during the opening ceremony on Thursday evening that hospice is there to not treat the illness, but to help treat the symptoms and give those loved ones a few last moments of peace.

“We try to give people a lot of grace and dignity at the end of life,” Harrison said. “So hospice focuses on the symptoms they have and not their disease.”

The new hospice wing will also offer 24-hour coverage by registered nurses, daily physician visits, pet therapy, a kitchenette for families and 24-hour visitation.

Harrison told members of the community that hospice care is a “whole team approach.” She said Hospice of Virginia also offers spiritual care, bereavement services and personal care to family members.

Hospice of Virginia is also looking into developing a support group in the community for family members. Another service offered is a bereavement program that follows all of patients’ families for up to 13 months after the death.

Dr. Gohar Abbasi sat with Jackson in the private family room in the hospice wing on Thursday evening as she shared the story of her father in hospice care. Abbasi said the role of the family is important in hospice care. He said doctors provide just as much care to the families.

‘We don’t treat all the patients, we treat families,” Abbasi said. “So the patient and family is one unit. The more of a focus we have on the patients, the same type of attention and focus the family gets.”

Once the ribbon was cut on the second floor, tours were given to those in attendance. As members of the community walked the halls of the renovated second floor, snuck a peak at the rooms overlooking the Appomattox River and saw the crisp, white bed spreads sprawled on the beds in the four rooms, Jackson sat and watched, and said the new services will touch many in the surrounding communities.
Knitted hats made by members of the community line the counter at the infusion center.

“We have an older population in this community and people can stay here,” Jackson said. “Maybe they can’t have hospice at home and they have to have this here. It’s hard to have hospice in the house and being the caregiver and also grieving the potential loss at the same time.”

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