Hospice Home

November 1, 2011 | By More

The final days of life for a terminal patient and his family are traumatic under the best circumstances.

Many families bring their loved one home to die. In these cases, Hospice services come to the home to provide comfort to the patient and respite for family caregivers.

Hospice or palliative care focuses on physical and emotional comfort for patients during their final days, rather than on active or curative treatment. In simple terms, Hospice care represents quality of life over the quantity of life.

Unfortunately, home hospice service is not always appropriate because of medical necessity or limitations in the home environment or in medical coverage. For these patients, the Arkansas Hospice River Valley Home at 220 John Babish Lane was formally dedicated on September 28, 2011.

Twelve years ago when the facility was first planned, it would have been the first free-standing hospice inpatient center in Arkansas, said Jim Bob Humphrey, Chairman of the Arkansas Hospice Capital Campaign Committee. However, it is the first to be built and operated by the nonprofit organization, Arkansas Hospice, and will serve patients in the six county area including Conway, Johnson, Logan, Perry, Pope and Yell counties.

The 7,000 square foot state-of-the- art building has private rooms for eight patients. Each room has been designed to hospital standards while maintaining a feeling of home and comfort. The facility includes a central nursing care station, a negative pressure patient room for patients with respiratory or contagious infections, a chapel named in honor of the late Dorothy Babish, and a comfortable lobby with a fireplace seating area and adjoining multi-purpose family room with a food preparation area for family use. The family room opens to an outdoor garden patio with a water feature holding a stunning, optically lit tree-of-life sculpture.

To provide a homey feeling, each bedroom-like patient room is furnished with a chair/bed for family members, a handicapped-accessible private bath and a big screen TV that can play a continual loop of familiar area landscape photos donated by Russellville photographer Terry Boyd, with soothing piano music produced and donated by Nancy Feldman of San Destin, Fla. The Home also encourages families to bring DVDs of photographs for reminiscing with the love one.

(For information on Boyd, visit www. terryboydphotography.com, or www. magnoliahouse.com for Feldman)

Completing the cozy atmosphere, each bed has a handmade quilt and a crocheted prayer shawl made by local volunteers as special remembrances for the family to take home.

There is no similar inpatient facility within a 70-mile radius. To access this type of care in the past, patients and their families had to travel to Ft. Smith, Little Rock or Harrison.

The building’s total cost of more than $2.5 million was raised by a group of dedicated fund raisers called the Arkansas Hospice Capital Campaign Committee. Headed by Jim Bob Humphrey, Capital Campaign Committee members include: Dr. Mary Ann Rollans, Susan Bailey, Donna Van-Horn, Aldona Standridge, George and Paula Reid, Bonnie Brown Ring, Glenn Heaton, Susan Bailey, Sharon Trusty Kronenberger, Troy Burris, Dee Brazil-Dale, Phyllis Bewley, Janet Ford, Leonard Krout, Richard Ruble and Dorothy Babish, who died three weeks before the dedication of the facility she worked tirelessly to make a reality.

Donations made by the family of John and Dorothy Babish provided the funds to build the street and the chapel in each of their names. The names of 158 donors of $1,000 donors are also listed on the donor wall inside the foyer.

Prior to the formal dedication ceremony, there was a private reception for these founding donors, members of the Capital Campaign Committee and Babish’s three grown daughters: Gwendolyn Rambo, Charla McKernan, and Carla Beckwith.

“My mother would have loved to be here to see this,” said McKernan. Babish died on September 13 at home under the care of Arkansas Hospice services.

“There are no words to describe the wonderful service she received. These people truly have the heart to do what they do,” she added.

The formal dedication ceremony took place outside under the portico at the front entrance of the building; a brick and stone structure which more closely resembles a gracious home than an end-of-life medical facility.

“This day has been a long time in coming,” said Judy Wooten, President and CEO of Arkansas Hospice. Wooten cited the vision of former Arkansas Hospice founder and CEO, Michael Aureli, who died just three months ago at the age of 61 from recurring cancer, and Babish, who died in early September, as two driving forces behind the new Hospice Home. Ironically, neither person was able to die in the peaceful and comforting care of the new facility they worked so hard to create and hoped to spend their last days.

“Michael Aureli was a visionary leader who changed the lives of those he touched. His love for the dying and his passion for excellence set the standard for end-of-life care in Arkansas,” said Wooten. Although Aureli originally conceived the Hospice with the belief that Little Rock would be the site, Aureli came to believe the Russellville location would better serve the Arkansas community.

Wooten also eulogized Babish. “Dorothy Babish was a driving force in the realization of this wonderful facility. Toward the end of her life, Dorothy thought she might be the first patient to use this facility and I know she is here in spirit today to witness the dedication.”

“To both Dorothy Babish and Michael Aureli, thank you for sharing your dreams and lives with us. We love you, miss you and will never forget,” said a tearful Wooten to the equally misty eyed group at the dedication.

Wooten thanked the many donors and the Capital Campaign Committee, which she lovingly referred to as “professional beggars”. Because of the committee’s hard work and dedication, “a concept that was only a dream in the early 1990’s, is now bricks and mortar.” Wooten also thanked the staff and donors for “taking these bricks and mortar and turning it into a living, breathing home offering loving, tender, compassionate care for the end of life.”

Wooten presented Jim Bob Humphrey with a plaque to honor his leadership as Capital Campaign Chairman.

“Mr. Humphrey is a man who never sleeps, never met a stranger and never gives up. If you want something done in this town, he is the man to do it.”

Humphrey thanked Wooten and said, “It’s not about me. It’s about the people who have gone on before us.”

With 350 employees state wide, working out of eight regional offices, Arkansas Hospice is the largest nonprofit in the state and patients are never turned away due to inability to pay, said Wooten.

Arkansas Hospice services are covered 100% by Medicare and Medicaid and most private insurers follow Medicare’s footsteps. As a not-for-profit organization, Arkansas Hospice cares for all regardless of financial resources. For more information on the Arkansas Hospice River Valley Hospice Home, call (888) 498-2050.

The Final Days

As owner and manager of Humphrey Funeral Home in Russellville for more than 30 years, Jim Bob Humphrey has dedicated his life to help families dealing with death. Because of his work, Humphrey is intimately familiar with the process of death and dying.

“The last 3-5 days of a person’s life can be very powerful! For those closest to the dying patient, these last days and hours are nearly always filled with some trauma. For the dying patient it can be filled with both agony and ecstasy!”

When a decision is made by the dying patient and family members in coordination with the primary care physician to discontinue life-saving procedures, a change in context occurs: no longer are we seeking a cure when there really is no cure. A new direction begins: the focus is no longer on medical procedures that are diagnostic or curative. Instead, the medical support team focuses on comfort.

The patient then moves from an intensive care unit to his or her own bed at home (or inpatient Hospice) surrounded by that which is familiar and comforting. Now, the person can be surrounded by people who give them comfort and by the things which bring up the sweetest of memories like photographs of events long ago that shaped their lives.

Loved ones and caregivers should focus on long talks where the purpose is centered on being present in the moment rather than on doing. It is in these moments that we become most “human”, said Humphrey.

Humphrey still vividly recalls his beloved father’s death 14 years ago, after a long fight with Alzheimer’s disease followed by seven months in a nursing home and two weeks in the hospital. ThetimethatMedicarewouldpayforhospitalcarewasoverand so we returned to the nursing home, to an unfamiliar room.

“During the last 48 hours he suffered. Unable to get his breath, for the first time in my life, I saw fear in my father’s eyes. It was so painful to see him in such suffering. I asked the nurse if I should stay. She said “sweetheart, you don’t want to be here to watch this”. And so I left and said that I could be reached on my pager. I ran away. I left my dad dying in a room with four gray walls with people he did not know or trust because I could not “handle it.” How I long to go back there and make a different decision”.

Humphrey said he wished he would have had another chance to say all the loving things he held in his heart for his father. Humphrey and his father worked together more than 20 years in the family business. Adopted at the age of seven by the Humphreys, he said “He was my dad, my business partner, my best friend and my hero.”

“I wish I could have sat by his bed and told him how proud I am to be his son, how I will always love and remember him. I wish I had held his big farm hands. I wish I could have told him that I will take good care of my mom. I would have told him I will continue to care for the families of the Arkansas River Valley with the same concern he had shown for the past 56 years.”

As Capital Campaign Chairman for the Arkansas Hospice River Valley Home, Humphrey kept his promise to his father and to families in the River Valley suffering with end of life concerns.

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