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Skirball brings hospice care to SCV

Skirball serves patients of all religions and ethnicities

Posted: November 17, 2009 3:16 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2009 2:54 p.m.
 
ENCINO (PRNewswire) -- Skirball Hospice, a program of the Los Angeles Jewish Home, is marking November's National Hospice Awareness Month by encouraging everyone to learn more about how hospice services can help care for a loved one with compassion and dignity at end of life.

Hospice is one of the country's fastest-developing healthcare fields and one of its most important in a nation whose aging population is growing.

"More and more people are becoming aware of the importance of hospice through the positive experiences of family, friends, neighbors or co-workers," said Nancy Paulson, administrator, Skirball Hospice.

"The hospice philosophy focuses on management of the patient's pain and other physical symptoms plus offering support to provide psychosocial and spiritual comfort as the patient and family deal with end-of-life issues and concerns. We view support to maintain dignity and quality of life at this important time as key in our mission to our patients and our community."

Hospice care, whether provided in the patient's private home or in an institutional setting, includes services from an interdisciplinary team. At Skirball Hospice, the team includes physicians, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, therapists, and spiritual and other counselors plus the availability of volunteers.

"Services are provided according to the individualized needs of our patients and families," Paulson said. "Our team recognizes, understands and knows how critical it is to help patients and families with the array of emotions and stresses they are dealing with during this time.

"By achieving physical, emotional and spiritual comfort, patients and families can concentrate on the precious aspects of life in its final stages."

Skirball Hospice also provides family and others who cared for the patient a special bereavement follow-up program for at least a year following the death of the loved one. The services include counseling, mailings, telephone calls, and other outreach and support activities.

Rabbi Glenn Ettman, bereavement coordinator for Skirball Hospice, stresses that this program and its various activities are important because it "acknowledges that people grieve in a host of ways and in different time frames, but that everyone ultimately strives to move from dark places of sadness to a brighter time of healing and wholeness."

He adds that his emphasis is to assure that grief, ultimately, borrowing a phrase from the Peanuts character, Charlie Brown, is "good grief."

With a grant from the Skirball Foundation and certified by the National Institute of Jewish Hospice, Skirball Hospice carries the Jewish Home's nearly century-old tradition of excellence and dedication into the community.

Skirball services patients of all religions and ethnicities within the greater Los Angeles areas including Malibu, Santa Clarita and Canyon Country, with the same skill, dignity and warmth that has been the Jewish Home's trademark since 1912.

The services are paid for by Medicare, Medi-Cal and most private insurance companies. Multiple studies have proven that the last six months of life have been the most costly to the healthcare delivery system.

It is often a time when persons have multiple hospitalizations and/or treatments that are not successful in curing or prolonging life. It is during this time that patients and families often say "enough," and their focus changes from curing to comfort. This is the time when patients and families request hospice.

Skirball Hospice provides its services 24 hours a day, seven days per week to meet the needs of patients and families.

"We frequently get requests from physicians and other referral sources after normal business hours including weekends and holidays, and we are there to assure those needing the services do not need to be in pain or otherwise suffer," Paulson said.

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