We were honored to have representatives of the Hospice of Lenawee with us today. Joining our speaker, Dr. Justin Voorhees, were the Executive Director of Hospice, Travis Havens, and our own Anne Sherman.
Justin is a native of Missouri and the son-in-law of Kevin Keller! He attended Texas A & M, studied medicine in Grand Rapids, practiced internal medicine for some time and then became interested in “end of life” care. He participated in a Hospice Fellowship program and moved to Michigan as Hospice of Lenawee was looking for a medical director. He started in July and has been very encouraged since he’s been here as to ”how people in this community are pouring into this organization”. Hospice not only helps their patients, they help their families, he said, providing extensive resources.
Justin said that Hospice has its beginnings during the time of the Crusades. Cicely Saunders, Justin said, is widely regarded as a key founder of modern hospice programs as well as one of the first leading advocates for palliative care to help ensure patients with terminal illnesses are treated with compassion and respect. She was formerly a nurse who later became a physician.
Hospice, he said, focuses more on comfort than on a cure. In other words, on pain management. Medicare Part A helps with the costs of people needing Hospice’s services. Certain criteria, however, need to be met. Patients need a terminal diagnosis by two separate physicians, and must be within 6 months of their demise, Justin said. Covered items include all medications, equipment and services related to the terminal illness. “Volunteers are a huge help to us at Hospice”, he said.
In some cases, a Hospice patient’s health actually improves and their medications will be cut back, he said. Many are discharged and the average is about two a month. For these patients a medical plan is developed moving forward. Should their conditions worsen again, they can re-enroll.
As Justin was wrapping up his presentation, Frank Dick mentioned how fortunate our community is to have a Hospice to meet the needs of the terminally ill and that we should all support it.