My Mercy's Madelynn Innes
Alan Smith’s grandfather wanted nothing more than to be well enough to leave the hospital in St. Louis and go home to be comfortable. The family did all they knew, following the suggestions of his medical providors, moving him from the hospital, then to a skilled nursing facility and back to the hospital where he passed away.
Like others, Alan’s family didn’t understand how Mercy Home Health and Hospice could help.
“When families hear the phrase ‘hospice care,’ they sometimes equate that to giving up. They think hospice is only for patients who are close to death.”
But even patients with terminal illnesses can continue to maintain in their homes if they have the extra care they need. “That’s exactly what hospice is – extra care in the home,” Alan said.
The focus of that extra care centers on keeping a patient comfortable by controlling pain and other symptoms. “If that would’ve helped my grandfather stay out of the hospital, that’s what he would’ve wanted.”
From his personal experience, Alan realized his calling to help educate families about hospice care, and for the last eight years, has concentrated his efforts professionally across Missouri and Arkansas. Eight months ago, he joined nine others who comprise the Home Care Leadership Team in Mercy’s North Central Region.
As the team’s executive director, he said, “We want to provide the best hospice care to anyone who could benefit and qualify for it.”
For instance, Alan pointed out, “We accept patients who wouldn’t typically be considered ‘end of life,’ and we provide services that most others do not. We look at each patient and work to meet their clinical and psychosocial goals, all while reducing re-hospitalizations.”
As an accountable care organization, reducing re-hospitalizations is an especially important part of Mercy's partnership with Medicare. On the other hand, patients who are on Mercy Hospice who need to go back into a Mercy hospital (generally for pain stabilization) don’t count against the re-hospitalization rate.
We’re trying to overcome the misunderstandings as well as the myths about hospice care,” Alan said. “It’s not about giving up.” In fact, with the support of hospice care, patients often live longer than expected. Among families who have used Mercy's services, he added, “Their number one response is ‘I wish we would’ve called you sooner.’”
Every day, as these families have discovered, Mercy nurses, home health aides, therapists and social workers are making remarkable differences for the patients and families they serve. “They’re playing a central role in Mercy’s mission,” Alan said. “I’m delighted to work with such a terrific team and will continue to focus our leadership on doing what we can to support our people.”
To recognize the differences Mercy's Home Care staff are making every day for Mercy and for patients, please join us in celebrating national Home Health & Hospice month throughout November.