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Dispelling Myths and Understanding Hospice Care

Death. There, we got one of the most uncomfortable words in the English language out of the way first. What if I told you that death does not have to be uncomfortable? Dare I go as far as saying it can even be beautiful. A person’s journey to the inevitable can be made easier, more comfortable and even beautiful with the help of hospice.

There exists many beliefs about what hospice care is, and what it isn’t. Many of these beliefs are founded in myths perpetuated by the lack of proper education provided by hospice agencies themselves. At the inception of my career with Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions my understanding of what hospice care is aligned with many of the common myths I refer to below. Myths that induce a fear that keeps people from receiving the important end-of-life care they need and, most importantly, deserve.

Let’s dismiss the myths and replace them with the reality of what hospice is:

Myth #1: Hospice services are reserved for the last few days of life.

Truth: Hospice is for anyone diagnosed with a terminal disease and given a prognosis of six months or less of life if their disease were to follow the normal projection. Six-month prognosis is strictly a qualifier, services are not limited to that timeframe. Several patients have lived multiple years with the comfort and care provided by Central Wyoming Hospice.

Myth #2: Hospice is giving up, a patient will die quickly on hospice services.

Truth: Hospice does not hasten death. Hospice manages symptoms while the patient goes through the natural dying process. In fact, several studies have been completed, and the conclusion is the same: Patients with a chronic illness live an average of 30 days longer while using hospice services.

Myth #3: The use of morphine is what starts the dying process in patients.

Truth: Morphine, when used properly, does not hasten death. It is an effective pain reliever that works to block pain signals in the brain. In addition, morphine is effective in treating shortness of breath. Morphine will increase the lungs tidal volume, improving gas exchange with the result being a decrease in the patient experiencing shortness of breath. Morphine will make a patient more comfortable and improve quality of life.

Myth #4: Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Truth: Hospice care is available for any individual with a terminal illness, including cardiac, respiratory, neurological, and many other illnesses. The focus of care is tailored to the individual patient’s symptoms regardless of the disease process.

At Central Wyoming Hospice, we work to dispel myths about hospice care and educate the community on all that hospice care truly is. We are with patients as they walk through the final stages of their journey. We are with the families and caregivers as they process the loss of their loved ones, providing them with the tools to process their loss effectively.

Central Wyoming Hospice works closely with the patients and family members to determine the best plan of care for each individual patient. Hospice plans of care are determined in conjunction with each individual patient to ensure that all wishes are honored and respected.

If you or a loved one is ever faced with the decision, consider reaching out to Central Wyoming Hospice. There is always someone available to speak with you and answer any questions you may have. Hospice is all about providing comfort every step of the way and walking with you through every part of your end-of-life journey.

 

Michael Steele, RN

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CHWT Joins NIC For “Day Of The Dead” Death Cafe

Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions will be hosting a Death Café at the Nicolaysen At Museum as part of their “Dia De Los Muertos” celebration. It’s an empowering conversation around death and dying, aimed at increasing awareness of and de-mystifying death to help people make the most of their adult lives. “It’s a space where you talk about death to become more engaged with life, “says Susan Burk, Community Liaison at CWHT. “Our society is much more removed from death than in the past,” says Burk. “The Death Café allows people to express their fears, hopes, and curiosity about death. You can also come and just listen. It’s not grief counseling, it’s an open and authentic discussion about death, and the conversations can go in some very interesting directions.” The Death Café will be 5:30pm at the Nicolaysen Art Musum.  It is free and open to everyone. Coffee, treats, and companionship are provided. Please bring your thoughts, attitudes, hopes, and fears concerning death. “I believe that the culture of silence surrounding death should be broken through discussion, gathering, art, innovation, and scholarship.” -The Order of The Good Death

CWHT Hosts New Suicide Loss Grief Support Group

A new Grief Support Group for those who have lost a loved one to suicide will be starting up in November, hosted by Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. “Those that join us will be welcome to participate as much or as little as they are ready for. This will be a safe space for everyone to talk, listen, and realize that they are not alone in their loss,” says Shaina Eberly, BSW, who will be facilitating the group. “This will be great additional support during the Holiday season for those that have lost someone to suicide.” The Suicide Loss Grief Support Group will start November 7th, meeting on Tuesday evenings from 5:30pm-6:30pm at the CWHT Administration Office, 319 South Wilson. The group will run for 6 weeks, skipping November 21st (Thanksgiving week) and ending December 19th. For more information or to register, please call (307) 577-4832 or email Shaina at shainae@centralwyominghospice.org.

Tree of Love: A Celebration of Life

For many, the holidays symbolize a poignant time for celebration, love, and connections with family. For those of us who have lost a loved one, it can also bring a time of remembrance. Our annual “Tree of Love” event is an opportunity to remember those special people in our lives. Please join us to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on Sunday, December 3rd, at 5:00pm at Central Wyoming Hospice, 319 S. Wilson St.

“Tree of Love” is both a remembrance of special people in our lives and an important source of much needed funds for our comprehensive patient care programs. Your gift carries with it a message of caring for others in the community while perpetuating the memory of someone special.

For more information, please call (307) 577-4832 or email Rachel at rachelm@cwhp.org.

CWHT Hosts Unique Event, “A Night Well Spent”

Please join us for “A Night Well Spent” on September 9th on beautiful Casper Mountain. This unique experience will feature a five-course dining event with regionally inspired food with a nod to old-world style preparation handmade by Head Chef Matt Sissman and Chef de Cuisine Travis Johnson. Live it up with limousine service to and from Sunrise Shopping Center and Hogadon. Enjoy specialty wines, a signature cocktail, and the bar.

The all-inclusive ticket price of $1500 per couple is your gift to help provide excellent end-of-life care in your community. With only 100 tickets available, this is a very exclusive evening. There will be no fundraising at this event. This is simply an evening to enjoy unique and delicious food, excellent company, and a beautiful venue, the Hogadon Lodge.

Cocktails begin at 4:00pm, with dinner service starting at 6:00pm.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Rachel at (307) 577-4832.

Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions is With You to live life to the fullest.

CWHT Converse County CNA Michelle shares a beautiful story about her patient Bernice

“She walks with her walker at a snail’s pace but is pleased with herself because she is still trying to do as much for herself as possible. She is 80 years old, having made it to that grand life marker, well beyond the 3-month prognosis given in connection with a massive tumor of cancer in her chest.  Her long straight hair is still naturally sandy blonde, her cheeks pink, and her eyes mischief-filled, sparkling blue.  We reach the bathroom to take a shower, which we do twice every week, having had a good visit about her beloved children and grandchildren, and how she wants to go home and see if her sunflowers are up. There is only a tub, so we maneuver around, she hitches herself up onto a shower chair that has been placed in the tub (yes, at 80 years old!!), her feet outside the tub on a step stool, and we proceed to shower, water and suds going everywhere, soaked up by a multitude of towels on the floor. She tilts her head back, eyes closed, and relishes the warm water cascading over her head and face. And I marvel at the beauty of that face!  That face that wears the lines of time…drawn there by joys and sorrows, years of days in the sun gardening and raising children, births and deaths, love and hurt and laughter, courage and resolve…..and it strikes me that I love the face and the story of this woman for whom I have the opportunity to care….to come along side of and perhaps ease this ending of her journey.  I cherish this blessing I have been given, and will hold precious each moment in her company, because each time I come away, I am inspired to live life fully as she has, and MY journey is eased, and I am thankful…..”

Employee Testimonial: Chris, Care Coordinator RN

“For most of my nursing career, I was attracted to higher acuity fields like ICU, Cardiac Cath Lab, or Cardiothoracic Surgery. I loved the critical thinking element and the occasional adrenaline rush that came along with those specialties. During those times I NEVER would have considered hospice nursing. It sounded boring and depressing. 

Post-COVID I wasn’t sure if healthcare was where I wanted to focus my energy anymore. I was suffering from burnout. I’d always heard great things about Central Wyoming Hospice and thought I’d give it a try: worst case scenario I decide it’s not for me. 

When I initially went to nursing school, I had an admittedly idealistic and naive view of nursing. I imagined a lot of one-on-one time and patient bonding. Hospice is truly the type of nursing I envisioned: a place where management encourages you to spend time holding your patient’s hands and comforting them. Comfort is the main focus of hospice and Central Wyoming Hospice administration always puts patient care first.  

I now work as an admission nurse with the Care Coordination team. I have the luxury of working with some of the most compassionate, caring, and competent healthcare workers. We have a phenomenal team of nurses, CNAs, social workers, chaplains, grief care providers, etc. We bring a holistic approach to end-of-life care. We will be there to care for not only the patient but family and friends. We will care for the patient’s physical needs as well as the patient’s and family’s emotional and spiritual needs.  

I am confident that Central Wyoming Hospice provides the best end-of-life care for our patients. Our team truly wants to bring our knowledge and expertise to give our patients the best hospice experience possible. On a daily basis, I am amazed and proud when I hear how we have provided care and comfort for our patients and families.  

I love where I work. 

I am blessed to be a part of this team.”

CWHT’s “We Honor Veterans” Honored as Four-Star Program

Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions has achieved its fourth star for its quality of care for veterans through the national We Honor Veterans Program, this out of a five-star ranking system. We Honor Veterans was created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in partnership with the Veterans Administration and works to improve the quality of care for all veterans and their families. CWHT also provides a moving recognition pinning ceremony, the “Honor Salute”, for veteran patients and clients in our care.

CWHT has earned their stars for each level by completing education and community engagement, and developing VA and other veteran partnerships, among other activities.“We’re very honored to recognize our veteran’s service and sacrifices,” says Susan Burk, CWHT’s We Honor Veterans Team Lead. “It’s a very important part of our commitment to making sure that veterans get the care and recognition they deserve.”

Larry Kloster, a CWHT Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer and current chair of the CWHT Board of Directors, has been part of the program here from the beginning. “As I reflect back on the past four years and the 300 plus veterans we have honored through the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program that Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions has adopted, it has been one of the most memorable experiences in my life,” says Kloster. “We have been given the privilege and honor to thank our veteran patients for laying down their lives so that we may have the freedoms we enjoy each and every day! God Bless our Veterans and may God Bless our United States of America!”

 

CWHT Joins National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation

Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions is excited to announce our new membership to the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI). NPHI is made up of more than 95 not-for-profit, community-integrated hospice and palliative care providers and is dedicated to ensuring patients and their families have access to high quality care at the last stages of life. Central Wyoming Hospice is the is the first NPHI member in Wyoming.

NPHI believes the end-of-life care patients and their families receive should reflect their individual goals, values, and preferences. Together, members across the country define the standards of hospice care and guide patients and families through that journey.

“We joined NHPI because we believe that non-profit, community-based hospice providers historically have been and continue to be the leaders and the innovators in end-of-life care,” said CWHT Executive Director Kilty Brown. ”Ultimately, NHPI’s mission and values align closely with the type of care we provide daily.”

NPHI members are committed to person-centered advanced illness care that ensures individuals can focus on quality and comfort at the last stage of life. Driven by patient and family needs – not profit – members work to fundamentally change how people and institutions view end-of-life care, and instead, help people live as well as possible until they die.

The Importance of The Central Wyoming  Hospice Endowment 

The Central Wyoming Hospice Endowment is important to the organization because it helps to ensure a plan of long-term stability, fiscal responsibility, and financial viability. It offers a stable, predictable source of income which can provide annual support for our operating budget. Endowment contributions can help provide a measure of independence from economic, governmental, and political forces. This fund lays the groundwork for Central Wyoming Hospice to provide hospice care indefinitely.  It supports “Our Caring Promise”, our promise to be with you when you need us. 

The Wyoming Community Foundation manages these funds, and, like a community savings account, this permanent pool of assets generates income and grows over time. With this partnership, CWHT benefits from the Foundation’s 30-year history of adhering to donor’s wishes of building long-term assets that will help the community forever.  They can also help facilitate donations of stocks to the endowment making it easier and more tax beneficial to donors.

If you are interested in donating to the Central Wyoming Hospice Endowment to ensure the future of hospice care in your community, please contact Rachel McPherson at 307-577-4832 or the Wyoming Community Foundation at 307-721-8300. Thank you for supporting future generations in Our Mission: To companion the end-of-life journey with skill and compassion. 

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