Andrea Turner of Gentiva Hospice spoke to the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club last week. She spoke to the club about how hospice serves the community.

“A lot of people hear of hospice and they think somebody is about to die within the next 24 or 48 hours,” Turner said. And years ago that was generally the case.

“Now the ideal hospice patient we like to have is one who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness but has been given six months or less.”

However, she said that some patients have been with Gentiva since 2009.

“No one knows when someone will die so we have had patients who we have served for two, three or four years and then we have had those who have lived just a few days,” she said. “The general rule for staying on hospice it that you have a steady decline in health.

“Let’s say you start out being able to get out of bed and go to the grocery store or do yard work. Then one day you can get out of bed but you can’t do yard work. And then latrer you can’t go to the grocery store.”

Signs that you may need to consider hospice care can include: multiple trips to the emergency room in a short period of time; shortness of breath while resting; several falls over a six-month period; weight loss; and spending most of the day in a chair of bed.

The hospice team can include a nurse, a social worker a spiritual care coordinator, hospice aides and specially trained volunteers.

“The nurse will talk to you about your disease and medications,” Turner said. “They will focus on pain management and symptom control.

“A hospice aide will help a person take a bath or change the bed linen. And they will teach the caregivers how to move the patient and care for them.

“We do have a spiritual coordinator for those who want it. It’s not required, but it’s there if the patient wants it. The social worker provides extra emotional support. She can help council the family and be a third party that opens a line of communication. For example, it a family is having financial problems then they try to find a resource to help.”

The family also had the option to have volunteers who will visit the patient. Volunteers often go to see patients in nursing homes. They also provide caregivers relief. The7y can sit two or three hours with a patient while the caregiver goes to buy groceries or just to get out of the house for a little hile.

Gentiva also follows a family for 13 months after their loved one passes away just in case they need help.

There is also a program called Hospice-Veteran Partnerships where veterans’ needs are taken into account, providing leadership, education and program development.

They also try to pair veteran volunteers with veteran patients.

Hospice also has a camp for children who have lost loved ones. The cam is this week and is for children ages seven through 14.

The camp is located at Children’s harbor in Alex City.

These children swim, do arts and crafts, fish and many other activities,” Turner said. But the main thing is help them get over the loss of a loved one … talk to someone who has been there.”