People often believe that hospice is for patients with only hours or days to live, however this is not always true. For the family of longtime Van Wert resident Wally Purmort, the hospice journey was experienced for over a year at the Van Wert Area Inpatient Hospice Center.
“My husband had a gradually debilitating disease that was progressing slowly for several years and I was able to care for him at home,” said Laurie Purmort. “Then all of a sudden he was unable to stand or walk and I could no longer care for him.”
Hospice is for patients who have a terminal diagnosis which means, if the disease takes its natural course, their life expectancy is less than six months. However each patient’s disease progresses differently so the length of hospice care can be longer than six months. Purmort’s doctor recommended the hospice center in order to provide a quiet environment and to ensure his specific needs were met.
“He had trouble swallowing and would choke on certain foods,” said Purmort. The hospice staff addressed this by blending his food to make it easier to swallow.
The inpatient hospice center can offer a range of services to patients. It can provide short-term stays for symptom management and respite allowing a patient to return home once symptoms are controlled, or the caregiver has had time to rest. Residential care is also available for patients on a long term basis.
In addition to hospice care, Purmort was able to access CHP’s adult day care center where he could socialize and enjoy activities.
“One of the benefits we have is that we are a part of CHP which provides home hospice and a variety of other services,” said Tonya Rutledge, RN, nursing supervisor. “A patient can be admitted either at home or at the hospice center.”
Many families do their best to keep their loved one at home for as long as possible. “We work together to provide the best care possible for not only the patient but for the family as well,” said Rutledge.
Hospice takes an integrative approach to provide the best care possible for the patient along with their family. The hospice team of skilled nurses, a medical director/ family physician, social worker, massage therapist, chaplain, volunteers, and music ministry all work together to strive toward this goal.
“It is unfortunate that people believe that the hospice center is for patients in their last days of life,” said Rutledge. “A patient and their family does not fully reap the rewards of hospice unless they enter the hospice program early.”
Purmort was one of two patients that celebrated a year’s worth of holidays at the hospice center, and another patient celebrated two birthdays while there.
“They decorated his room for his birthday and even took him out in the parking lot to watch the Fourth of July fireworks which he really enjoyed,” said Purmort.
Hospice focuses on quality of life not quantity. Wally and his wife enjoyed leaving the hospice center time to time to visit a local ice cream establishment.
The Purmort family also appreciated the hospice staff delivering services based on his terms. For example, if he wanted breakfast at 11 a.m. or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 10 p.m., they provided it.
“The nurses were so wonderful and kind; after a year we became very good friends,” said Purmort. “They comforted me as well as him. I would highly recommend the hospice center.”