Lakeside Hospice isn’t a new name to the membership of St. Simon Peter Episcopal Church in Pell City.
The church has long supported the nonprofit hospice care provider, which has added services and support for those wishing to have hospice care for 32 years now.
The diversity of care and support services comes from a number of sources, said Paul Garing, executive director for Lakeside Hospice. Garing visited with the St. Simon Peter’s Saturday morning gathering to update members on Lakeside’s programs.
The Lakeside professional staff includes two physicians who oversee patient care, Dr. James Tuck, M.D., as medical director; and Dr. Ilinca Prisacaru, M.D., as associate medical director. The Lakeside Hospice Leadership Teams includes Adrienne Shanbray, nurse practitioner; Amy Green, R.N., director of nursing; Stephanie Honeycutt, financial and HR director; and Lynn Westrom, R.N., admissions coordinator.
These critical roles are supported by other staff, and also by Lakeside’s roster of volunteers, who have distinctive roles they fill for the patients under care, Garing said.
This is one way Lakeside remains a nonprofit, and retains extra services provided without cost for the patients, he said.
There are music and hygiene needs fulfilled, even haircuts; along with happy visits from Lakeside’s therapy dog, Renfroe; comfort touch massage visits to address pain, circulation and relaxation; assistance with patients’ needs with pets they may have, from care to helping with finding homes for a patient’s pet if such a situation presents itself.
With its music and memory therapy, Garing said Lakeside staff will determine the style music the patient might prefer, and provide headphones or a speaker, along with a charging source to support the equipment.
The comfort touch therapy is personalized with each patient who wants to engage with a visit, as each patient represents different needs and physical conditions, Garing said.
Garing said the Lakeside staff home visits are usually about an hour to an hour and a half in length, though Medicare only requires a 30-minute time frame if the patient is a Medicare patient.
Lakeside provides a 24/7 connection for patients, with backup support staff who can be called, which works out well for both patient and caregiver.
“They develop such a bond with the patients, the families, they become a part of the patients’ families even after a family member has passed,” he said.
A typical stay on hospice care is usually from 30 to 60 days, Garing said, and there are times that the patient improves to the point hospice is no longer needed. Not all admissions to hospice end with a patient’s passing, even if indications at the beginning suggested that would be the near-term outcome.
“We do have patients who graduate from hospice care,” he said. “And when they do, we have a graduation party for them. This is always a big thing for us, and for the patients.”
The extra support and services Lakeside can offer as a nonprofit include being a full partner of United Way, which became official three years ago, Garing said.
This partnership is primarily to assist with indigent patients, and United Way helps us to operate the way a nonprofit should, he said.
Donations and volunteers are the way Lakeside can address needs the staff sees or hears of during visits and conversations with the families, and concerns such as unsuitable septic systems in homes that outweigh a family’s ability to address can be rectified, pest control concerns, and other living situations that call for additional help.
“We have so many people living at poverty level and below,” Garing said.
Volunteers can also provide a respite to families from their caregiving roles, he said, making sure a patient has company and care while a family member can take care of other needs for a bit.
Garing concluded his remarks, thanking the church for its continuing support and commenting that the hospice teams at Lakeside are in their roles because hospice care “is a calling. Not everyone could come in and help with the concerns our patients have.”