VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care month: a chance to discuss hospice and palliative care and to recognize the dedicated staff at the Cleveland VAMC for taking such good care of our Veterans during their end of life.
On March 10, 2010, Cleveland VAMC staff held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of a brand new, beautiful hospice unit at Wade Park called Heroes Harbor. The unit features a Tribute Wall for our Veterans, a dining room, activity room, living and reception areas, a family lounge, and 19 private rooms for Veterans. Heroes Harbor Hospice professionals at the Cleveland VA Medical Center have one mission: To provide a peaceful environment where patients are assisted in defining and achieving their end-of-life care goals. Simply put, hospice professionals provide comfort and support at the end of life. This mission is far from easy to achieve, since each individual patient’s story is unique from the next, requiring different needs and attention.
Here at the Cleveland VAMC, multiple therapies are used in combination to help the patient achieve their end of life goals. One of the main therapies used is Pet Therapy. The Pet Therapist visits the patient with pets, most often dogs, and this facilitates a therapeutic experience for the patient in that it reduces anxiety in patients with pain and Dementia. “It encourages socialization because then they tell a story about their pets,” says Dr. Meredith Driscol, Medical Director of Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the Cleveland VAMC. Art Therapy is also often used for the patients to express themselves through art. The Art Therapist finds out their interests and then begins drawing to get the patient started. The patients are encouraged to choose any medium they desire to express themselves through drawing, etc. “It is much more than using a colored pencil, its expression of self,” says Driscol. Other services offered by the dedicated staff from Heroes Harbor include Bereavement and Spiritual Counseling.
The Heroes Harbor Hospice nursing staff goes through extensive training and preparation to provide the best care to our patients. They go through a six-week orientation course to work with members of the core hospice team. More than 75% of hospice staff has attended some type of educational conference since April of this year. Not just anyone can undergo training to take on this responsibility though. “It is a different mind-set of care than most healthcare professionals are accustomed to. It is all about comfort care and goal setting.” Driscol points out.
Latina Johnson, Management Analyst, (216)791-3800 ext. 4875 or to call Heroes Harbor directly, (216)791-3800 ext. 6600