PINEHURST – With thanks for the many people who make quality end-of-life care possible, FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care celebrates National Hospice and Palliative Care Month in November.
The nationwide observance raises awareness about the importance of hospice and palliative care for people coping with life-limiting illnesses, their families, and the professionals and volunteers who care for both groups.
“It is an honor to work with our exceptional team of professionals and volunteers who have chosen to dedicate themselves to end-of-life care,” said Tina Gibbs, director of FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care. “Our team includes wonderfully caring physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, bereavement specialists, chaplains and specially trained volunteers who work hand-in-hand to ensure that our patients and families find dignity, respect and love during their difficult journey.”
Gibbs said during November, the organization's providers, staff and volunteers will be honored with special events, gifts, meals and self-care activities. “Self-care is an important part of maintaining an exceptional team,” Gibbs commented. Additionally, the team and its important work will be featured on FirstHealth's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
The philosophy of hospice and its concept of care to patients with a life-limiting illness strives to be optimistic but realistic, with the primary goal of relieving physical and emotional suffering.
“Hospice is not a place,” said Gibbs. “It is compassionate care that enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness.”
In 1980, a group of volunteers led by oncologist David Allen, M.D., started Sandhills Hospice with a commitment to support the needs of people approaching the end of life and their families. In 1996, Sandhills Hospice joined FirstHealth of the Carolinas and today is the only not-for-profit hospice associated with the organization.
The palliative care program, focusing on relieving suffering and improving quality of life in any stage of a progressive illness, serves patients in Moore Regional Hospital, in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, and on an outpatient basis. Hospice care focuses on similar issues as palliative care but includes patients who are no longer seeking aggressive, life-prolonging medical therapies and where the prognosis is fewer than six months.
FirstHealth’s hospice campus opened eight years ago and is home to FirstHealth Hospice House, an 11-bed inpatient, home-like environment for short-term acute care. The house features private rooms, a family kitchen, dining area and children’s play area.
“Our campus is 30 acres of serenity,” said Gibbs. It includes seasonal gardens, a lake, a full-scale walking labyrinth and an interfaith chapel, all available for peaceful and quiet reflection.
The organization’s home hospice services provide care to patients in their private homes along with assisted living and skilled nursing facilities in Moore, Montgomery, Hoke and Lee counties.
An extension of these services is FirstHealth Grief Resource & Counseling Center, which offers individual, family and group counseling for children, teens and adults who are adjusting to a serious illness or who have experienced a loss due to death. All services of the center are open to anyone in the community at no charge.
Nationally, approximately 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive care from hospices, reports the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. In fiscal year 2019, FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care served 933 patients in hospice care, 1,560 patients in palliative care and more than 1,000 family members and community individuals through the FirstHealth Grief Resource & Counseling Center.
“The need for our services is great, but the heart of our team is far greater,” said Gibbs. “We are proud to offer our gold standard of care for almost 40 years, always providing not-for-profit services and making life last the whole time.”
For more information about FirstHealth Hospice and Palliative Care, call (910) 715-6000 or (866) 861-7485 toll-free.