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Archive | November, 2011

Curtis’ Story

When asked, Curtis Blair tells you what he wants people to say about him. “I want them to know that I never gave up.” he says with a smile, “I want people to know that I am a strong person and a nice guy.”

It’s easy to say all of those things about Curtis. He is 23-years old and a patient of Hospice of Dayton. Curtis has Muscular Dystrophy, diagnosed when he was two years old. Curtis lived at home and attended school until he was 15. At that point difficulty breathing became a serious problem. As the disease progressed, his mother became unable to care for him in their home and he was moved to a nursing home. He is now on oxygen for all but very brief periods of time.

Not long ago, Curtis got to take a trip outside of his room. Having been bed-bound for years, he had not been able to enjoy the out-of-doors. On a beautiful summer day, the occupational therapists from Hospice of Dayton arranged to move his bed and oxygen outside for awhile. The way Curtis described it was that “it must feel like what a convict would feel like when he is set free. ” He took in the warmth of the sun, the blue of the sky, the sweet earthy smells and the breeze on his skin. That brings us to another thing Curtis wants people to know. “Don’t take anything for granted,” Curtis says.

But Curtis also says the last thing he wants is for people to feel sorry for him. Despite the many obstacles he has encountered, Curtis has achieved a great many dreams and touched many lives. With help from a hospice volunteer, Curtis has written a book that is now in the hands of a publisher. When asked what it’s about, Curtis says simply, “it’s a book about a boy that struggled.” He talks about writing another book and dedicating it to his heroes in World Wrestling Entertainment. Curtis has twice been their guest at the Nutter Center in Dayton, with WWE performers posing for pictures with him, signing autographs, giving him gifts and insisting he be photographed by the ring on the stage with them. He prizes the mask that one of the WWE stars handed him. They were as big in person, he says, as he expected them to be. But when they talked with him, he said, some had tears in their eyes. Some of them may have been thinking that Curtis is the strongest man they ever met.


Bud’s Story

Bud Weller, World War II Veteran, served in the Pacific as the Second World War came to an end. “I was in basic training when they declared peace,” Bud recalls. His first assignment, however, was a glimpse into the horror to the war that had just ended. He was among the first soldiers stationed in Hiroshima following the bombings that ended the war. “The only things standing were the concrete buildings that were reinforced with steel,” Bud remembers. “Everything on the mountain outside the city was burnt halfway up.”

Bud served as a staff car driver while in the Army and became a mechanic after he was discharged. Bud was one of three Hospice of Dayton patients who boarded a plane in 2009 to revisit their past through Honor Fight, a program designed to transport veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifice. It was his first trip to D.C. and the monuments that pay tribute to he and other soldiers that served in World War II, and a cherished memory.

Robotic Pet Therapy Effective in Dementia Patients

The newest member of our animal assisted therapy program is not really a pet at all, but a robot. A therapeutic robot baby harp seal, intended to be very cute and cuddly, is being used with patients diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. “Paro” is soft and lifelike and has tactile sensors. The robotic seal responds to petting by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes. It also responds to sounds and can learn a name. It can show emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger, and produces sounds similar to a real baby seal.

Paro was developed for therapy to replace real animals when patient interaction with therapy pets might pose a danger to the patient or the pet. Studies since 2008 in Danish nursing homes have found that Paro soothed dementia patients and helped them communicate. The potential impact of Paro became apparent early on with a dementia patient who had not moved her arms or unclenched her hands in months. As the seal was placed into her arms, she stroked the seal and unclenched her fists. Two of the robotic seals are now in service with hospice patients, providing a new and effective therapeutic treatment alternative.

Star Gazing Eases Anxiety

Kathleen Emerson, LPN, CHPLN

Imagine lying back in your recliner on a warm summer evening looking up at a beautiful night sky filled with stars and soft puffy clouds. The galaxy with its pinpoints of brilliance is immense before you. Imagine the peacefulness and comfort this brings to you. Hospice of Dayton is engaged in research with Laser Star Projectors to provide a non-pharmacological solution to anxiety and agitation often experienced by patients at while nearing their life’s journey.

The Laser Star Projectors are part of the ongoing expansion of complementary innovative medical approaches provided by Hospice of Dayton. They are used as adjuncts to conventional medicine. Our program started with one projector. Response from patients and families was so positive the use of the star projector caught on quickly. Soon we had patients and family members requesting the projector for their room. We had one patient, who was experiencing extreme terminal agitation. No amount of medication, soft lights, quiet music or peaceful room helped this patient experience peace and relaxation. We took the projector into his room, turned the lights down and the star projector on. Immediately, the scene playing out on his ceiling entranced the patient. He laid there quietly, watching the stars and clouds, until he dozed off to sleep. This became a daily ritual for this patient, affording him the peace and rest he needed. After he slipped into a non-responsive state, his wife would frequently request the star machine, stating it helped her to relax while she sat with her husband. After his passing, his family donated five star machines to the unit. More donations followed as families found their loved ones benefited with less anxiety and agitation. Use of the equipment is being expanded to address the needs of patients in home care and extended living facilities. We are now engaged in several research projects in collaboration with Miami Valley Hospital and Children’s Medical Center of Dayton to document and track the effectiveness of light therapy in a variety of care settings.


A Story of Passion and Support

An enormous passion for hospice and palliative care and an unqualified commitment to patients at the end-of-life has characterized the career of Jules Sherman, D.O., F.A.C.O.I. Dr. Sherman has been instrumental to the evolution of hospice and palliative care in the Dayton area, and fundamental to the reputation and respect that Hospice of Dayton has earned in the community. In 2009, the Ohio Hospice and Palliative Care Organization honored him with the “Friend of Hospice Award” for physician contributions to hospice care.

Dr. Sherman’s efforts, as an advocate for patients and families, have helped frame a wider range of options for care, and his mentorship of both physicians and clinicians has created a new generation of caregivers committed to the hospice and palliative care philosophy.

Dr. Sherman is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology as well as Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Internists and past President of the Dayton District Academy of Osteopathic Medicine. His association with Hospice of Dayton began during his tenure as a principal in an oncology practice. In this role he became a strong advocate for the hospice option for patients and helped spearhead the development of hospice services in Dayton. He began serving as Medical Director of Hospice of Dayton in 1984, and in 2002 he joined the staff full-time as Clinical Medical Director. He was appointed Chief Medical Officer in 2007.

During his tenure of medical leadership, Hospice of Dayton has become actively involved in the education and training of future hospice care providers as an affiliate of Wright State University School of Nursing; Wright State University School of Medicine and Ohio University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Residency rotations are offered at HOD for physicians from Good Samaritan Hospital, Miami Valley Hospital, Grandview Medical Center, Kettering Medical Center, and the Clinton Memorial Hospital family practice program of the University of Cincinnati.

Dr. Sherman has also led the effort to extend palliative care offerings in the communities we serve by establishing a Palliative Care Consultants service, extending the palliative expertise of Hospice of Dayton physicians to local hospitals. His support and involvement has been instrumental in implementing and extending palliative care services at Kettering Medical Center and The Atrium Medical Center. Under his leadership, members of Hospice of Dayton staff have served as members of the Palliative Care Committee at Miami Valley Hospital. As an advocate for patient self-determination, Dr. Sherman has also assisted area healthcare facilities in addressing ethical issues surrounding end-of-life and has served as an active member of the Ethics Committees at area hospitals and extended care facilities.


When Families Need it Most

Dr. Gary LeRoy serves on the Board of Trustees for Hospice of Dayton. As a family practitioner, Dr. LeRoy sees the possibility of enabling a loved one to die at home instead of in a hospital as an act of love, an act of generational devotion. “When a disease diagnosis leaves no hope for cure, hospice services are designed to support quality of life and help the family through the journey of loss,” says Dr. LeRoy. “Hospice of Dayton can help families by providing in-home visits from physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, home health aides and volunteers to help meet the needs of patients. Medical equipment such as hospital beds, oxygen and portable toilets can be delivered to the home to help patients continue to remain comfortably at home.”

Medications and supplies for the terminal diagnosis are routinely included in hospice care and the costs are typically covered through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. “Even patients who are not covered through such programs can receive care from Hospice of Dayton at no cost,” Dr. LeRoy stresses. “As a non-profit hospice provider and thanks to donations from the community, Hospice of Dayton provides care for any eligible patient regardless of ability to pay.

Beyond caring for the patient, hospice services are also geared to go above and beyond in an effort to care for family members. “Grief counseling for family members is also available at no cost and extends for over a year after the loss of a loved one in hospice care. The Pathways of Hope grief counseling program at Hospice of Dayton also offers grief counseling to anyone in the community who needs it, regardless of whether hospice services were ever used.”

Dr. LeRoy is quick to offer clarification about some of the myths about hospice care. “Many people believe hospice care is only for those with cancer. Actually Hospice of Dayton provides care for patients with a variety of diagnoses including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, respiratory diseases, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, HIV/AIDS, liver disease, kidney failure, stroke and coma.” Dr. LeRoy also notes that many patients who receive hospice care continue to live and have a high quality of life beyond the six-month life expectancy upon which hospice admission is based. “While physicians refer patients into hospice care when they believe patients are in decline and not expected to survive beyond six months, the reality is that some patients do very well with the concentrated care provided by hospice and can survive for years. Hospice patients who meet eligibility requirements are not bound by time limits and can continue to receive services as needed.” Patients can also continue to see their regular doctor. The caring, patient-focused physicians of Hospice of Dayton serve as specialists and consultants, but do not replace the family doctor as the primary caregiver.

While some hospices require patients to stop all treatments, Hospice of Dayton permits patients to continue to receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments designed to ease pain and offer comfort.

Dr. LeRoy recommends that families discuss end-of-life care to assure that individual wishes can be respected and honored. “It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s important for families to know what loved ones want in terms of end-of-life care. Those who love you will want to do everything they can to respect your wishes,” Dr. LeRoy says. “Our family ties are so strong, but sometimes even the strongest family can’t meet every need without help. Hospice of Dayton is a resource that can help when families need it most.”

Decades of Dedication

Larry Glickler was new to Dayton and only 25 years old when he became the owner of a funeral home and began his passion for Hospice of Dayton. “A representative from Hospice of Dayton came to a meeting of funeral directors and asked for volunteers. I volunteered and I never left.” Thirty years later, Larry is still involved with The Hospice of Dayton as a volunteer with the Hospice of Dayton Foundation Development Committee and Ethics Committee.

He is proud of his decades of dedication to the mission and philosophy of hospice, and proud to be part of the historical legacy of the organization. Larry was a member of the first Board of Directors. As the demand for hospice services grew, so did the realization that some of the patients being served were too sick to remain in their home, but they did not want to be hospitalized and faced with futile, unwanted procedures and treatments. The idea of building a care center to meet the needs of patients came at the same time Larry assumed the role of President of the Board. He introduced the motion to build the care center and helped spearhead the capital campaign to make it a reality.

He credits Carol Cline, whose gift was at the time the single largest donation, for enabling construction of the facility. Larry takes most pride in the fact that The Hospice of Dayton serves everyone equally, regardless of ability to pay, and regardless of cost of care. “We never turn anyone away,” Larry says. “What is most dear to my heart, “ Larry shares, “is how often I’ve talked with families who have had an experience at The Hospice of Dayton and they talk with me about the “angels” at hospice and the wonderful care their loved one received. It makes me proud to be a part of it.”

The Storeyteller’s Story

Jerry Gump always has stories to share. Sharing is what comes naturally to Jerry. That’s why he became a volunteer for hospice in 2005.

He was just a few years into his retirement after a thirty year career as a Housing Inspector for the City of Middletown when doctors diagnosed his wife of 35 years with small cell lung cancer and gave her three months to live. Jerry says “we knew it was incurable but we fought the good fight. She lived 22 months after diagnosis.” Becoming a hospice volunteer was an easy decision for Jerry. “It was a chance for me to give back,” Jerry says. “Hospice did so much for us. We appreciated the nurses and home health aides that cared for my wife. Hospice helped give her more time and helped us keep her at home.”

Jerry has taken on all kinds of assignments for hospice, but his most frequent role is that of a visitor, sharing stories with patients, helping take them to the grocery, to the doctor or for treatments. He was visiting a patient one Sunday afternoon when the “dry hurricane” hit. As the winds whipped up, Jerry tried to get onto the patio to move furniture so it wouldn’t be damaged, but was unable to open the door because of the air pressure. The glass topped patio table was smashed. When he returned home he found a huge limb from the neighbor’s tree in his driveway. “It fell exactly where my van would have been parked if I’d been home,” Jerry says. “I took it as a sign that I was where I needed to be.”

All of the patients and families whose lives Jerry has touched would agree. As a hospice volunteer, he is exactly where he needs to be.


Walking Beside Patients

There is no one more dedicated to the Hospice of Dayton mission than Judy Cole. Judy, a widow and mother of two, joined Hospice of Dayton as a volunteer following her husband’s death in June, 2004.

She had retired from her job and sought a new and meaningful role. She found it at Hospice of Dayton. Judy often serves as a listening ear to someone who is having a rough time during the end of life journey. Whether she is greeting people as a receptionist, talking to a new patient on the phone, assembling a packet of grief materials, mentoring a new volunteer, making a medical supply kit, attending a patient Quality of Life meeting, sewing a Memory Bear, or filing records, Judy is putting her heart and soul in walking beside patients.

She is an exceptional volunteer and exemplifies the essence of the Heart of Hospice Award with a heart that beats love and care. Judy was honored with the Heart of Hospice award from the Ohio Hospice and

Palliative Care Organization, the top Ohio honor for hospice volunteers, in 2009. Her tremendous dedication to the Hospice of Dayton mission is reflected in her dedication and commitment to the hospice mission. She currently assists with supplies at our Wright Dunbar Community and Team Center, makes deliveries and helps with the Quality of Life training. She is a jack of all trades at Hospice of Dayton.

The Gift of HOPE

Staff members at Hospice of Hospice of Dayton® of Butler & Warren Counties support their hospice program not only with their dedication and passion, but with their donations. The Staff Giving Society is the major source of dollars for the HOPE Fund, which assists patients and their families in circumstances where clinical hospice care is not enough for quality end of life care. The HOPE Fund provides comfort beyond medical demands.

While other agencies may offer similar resources for emergency needs, their process may be time consuming due to paperwork, availability and agency approvals. In many cases, Hospice patients do not have time to wait for assistance. For them, every minute counts. The HOPE Fund allows dollars to be disbursed immediately for urgent patient needs.

Through the HOPE Fund patients can be provided with gift cards for food and other necessities. Among the items HOPE has helped provide are space heaters in the winter, air conditioners in the summer, grab bars for bathtubs, assistance with utility bills, clothing when a patient has lost so much weight nothing fits and they can’t afford to purchase new.

The HOPE Fund has also made possible phone minutes to enable a patient to hear a family member’s voice for the last time; transportation for family members to see a loved one for a last time and final wish opportunities, enabling some dreams to come true. The HOPE Fund reflects the commitment Hospice  staff members have to celebrating every life and every day.