“When you think of hospice you think of death and dying,” McClanahan said. “Our goal is to give a clear perspective of what hospice does. Usually when a person gets to hospice they have six months or less to live. However, sometimes a person lives two years or more. In fact, some people who get on hospice don’t want to get out.”
McClanahan said that in the Middle Ages a hospice was a place for rest and safety.
“I like that definition,” she said. “For family and the patient it’s their last step in their journey to heaven,” she said. “I know people don’t like to talk about death, but it is something that we’re all going to do. Our job is to keep people comfortable. Hospice allows you to have your family around you. It’s hard to get 20 people around you in an Intensive Care Unit at a hospital. If you are at home you can have your family around you.
“We need to look at death as a great adventure. It is a stepping stone to a new life. We try to give care and comfort to a patient rather than a cure.”
Lakeside is located in Pell City and serves Calhoun, St. Clair, Coosa, Jefferson and Shelby counties to name a few. It is a non-profit center so all money is poured back into care for its patients.
McClanahan said the staff at Lakeside is specially trained to care for individuals with a terminal diagnosis. The level of care is more advanced. In hospice care, patients are encouraged to do as much as they can for as long as they can. Traditional home health requires the patient to be homebound. This is not so with hospice care. Hospice care does not restrict mobility. Under hospice reimbursement, the patient is entitled to additional items such as meds related to the terminal disease process.
Lakeside has a children’s program which provides grief counseling either at the facility or on the road. Its newest program is for veterans.
“Veterans are special because when they get to the end of life they process things differently,” she said. “They deal with pain because they are geared to carry on until the mission in finished. They don’t get to deal with death because they see their comrades die and don’t have time to deal with it.”
McClanahan said they are studying post-traumatic stress and brain injuries, which have been a problem with today’s returning veterans.