Hospice needs local volunteers


Training set for July

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Kay KludtWhen people are nearing the end of their lives, the local hospice program offers support for both the patients and their families.

Kay Kludt, volunteer supervisor for St. Charles Hospice in Madras and Prineville, spoke to the Madras City Council June 24 about the scope of the program and the need for additional volunteers.

The Madras hospice program, started in 1992, was originally licensed as part of Pioneer Memorial Hospital's hospice program, which had started four years earlier. In 2013, when St. Charles acquired Mountain View Hospital and Pioneer Memorial Hospital and their hospice programs, the name was changed to St. Charles Hospice.

The hospice program serves two separate populations through their Transitions and regular hospice programs.

Transitions is a no-fee service designed "to support life-limiting conditions through volunteers and community resources," according to Kludt. Transition patients may eventually need hospice, or may recover. The program is funded through donations.

A Transitions coordinator helps the patient and the patient's family understand the patient's illness and connect with community resources, in addition to offering emotional support.

Hospice, on the other hand, provides physical, emotional and spiritual care and support for patients during the final stages of a terminal illness, and is covered through Medicare, Medicaid, medical insurance, or donations.

The team providing support includes a primary care physician, medical director, nurse, hospice aid workers, social workers, chaplain, pharmacist, therapists, and volunteers.

"Our most valuable asset is the volunteers," said Kludt. "Presently, there are only five in this community. Our goal is to jump it up to 12 by the end of the year."

In Madras and Prineville, hospice cares for about 85 patients per month, with about 20 of those associated with St. Charles Madras.

The local Transitions program deals with 15-17 people.

"We actually need quite a few more volunteers," said Kludt, noting that the volunteers might be called upon to sit with patients and talk with, or listen to them. "Sometimes they want to share things with volunteers that they might not share with family."

The volunteer might help out by running light errands, mowing a lawn, or picking up a prescription.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Joy DeHaanJoy DeHaan, of Madras, who has volunteered for hospice for about seven years, learned about hospice in the mid- to late 1990s, when her parents were ill.

"When my parents were in such bad health, they had hospice, and it was such a godsend to me, I wanted to do it for someone else," she said.

Over the years, DeHaan has helped support about 15 patients and their families by sitting with the patient and holding his or her hand, reading the Bible to the patient, cleaning, or providing whatever type of care is most needed.

"I would try to go for about half an hour a week, depending on the patient," she said. "There was one that I'd spend about three hours with, just to give the caregiver a respite."

Reflecting on the years she has spent as a hospice volunteer, DeHaan noted, "I always think I'm going to be able to help or bless someone else, but it seems that I'm always the one that gets the most out of it. It's really an honor to be able to participate with the family during that part of their lives."

The patients served by hospice in Madras and Prineville are in the final stages of a variety of diseases or illnesses, Kludt said. Currently, the oldest is 104, and the youngest is 18.

Anyone can make a referral to the program, but either a physician or medical director must diagnose the patient as having a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live. The patient and the patient's family must also decide that the patient no longer desires treatment to attempt to cure the illness. Hospice focuses on system management related to the patient goals.

Since the focus of hospice is keeping the patient comfortable, about 80 percent of patients remain in their own homes, which reduces the cost of care.

St. Charles Madras also has a hospice room, where a qualified patient can stay for up to five days to give the patient's caregiver a respite.

Potential volunteers for the hospice program must fill out an application, undergo a background check, and take 10-12 hours of training.

"It's a great program, and it's really sad that there aren't more volunteers," said DeHaan, who encouraged others to volunteer. "It's very rewarding."

The next volunteer training is set for Saturday, July 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Metolius room at the hospital. To sign up, or for more information, contact Kludt at St. Charles Hospice at 541-706-6700.