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Medical Journal to Publish Article Based on Treatment Innovation Originating at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton clinicians Kathleen Emerson, Linda Quinlin, Mary Murphy,  along with Miami Valley Hospital clinician Patricia O’Malley, and Kathleen Hayes, Hospice and Palliative Care Coordinator with the Dayton VA Hospital, are the authors of an article to be published in the June issue of the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing.

“Evaluation of a Low Light Intervention- Starlight Therapy –for Agitation, Anxiety, Restlessness, Sleep Disturbances, Dyspnea and Pain at End of Life” details study outcomes in the use of innovative light therapy in the treatment of patients.

Research into the impact of starlight therapy was initiated at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton over seven years ago when laser star projectors were first introduced to patient care. The projection of starlight onto the ceiling and walls of patient rooms proved to be a valuable therapy in easing anxiety, agitation, sleep disturbances, dyspnea, pain and restlessness among patients. Research also demonstrated a reduction in the need for pharmaceutical interventions for patients with a positive response to the light therapy approach.

 Pictured (L to R) are Mary Murphy, MS,RN,CNS, AOCN, ACHPN,  Linda Quinlin, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, NP-C, ACHPN and Kathleen Emerson, LPN, CHPLN


Our Top 10 Social Media Stories of the Year

It’s been a wonderful year – from staff recognitions to patients and families sharing life’s precious moments, we have enjoyed sharing stories of compassion, joy and success with our community.

Here are the top 10 stories from 2016 that you stopped to enjoy in your newsfeed:

10. PARO – Our Pet Therapy Tool

The PARO robotic seal we use as part of our Pet Therapy Program interested many of our social media followers. In the video below, Occupational Therapist Angeline Volpatti explained PARO’s abilities and the comfort it provides to our patients.

9. Learning About Star Therapy

Many enjoyed learning about our Star Therapy treatment available to all of our patients. Studies on this unique therapy tool have shown a number of positive results, leaving patients more comfortable and at peace.

8. A ‘Beary’ Sweet Treat

You loved reading about kids in our Camp Pathways program giving Volunteer Judy Cole a bear to call her own. Judy has been a Volunteer with us for many years and creating Memory Bears for families is a passion of hers. Read more about this story here.

7. Patient Robert Enjoys a Fishing Trip

We love sharing real stories about our patients enjoying every moment of life. Patient Robert Leming’s fishing story is a wonderful reminder that each day we all can find ways to #CelebrateLife!

6. Helping a Mother Say “Thanks”

Mother of hospice patient Antwan Hurston wanted to find the deputies that saved her son’s life and thank them in a special way. Our Social Worker Joshua Meeker went above and beyond to help fulfill this mother’s wish. This story warmed many hearts on social media. Read the story here.

5. Honoring Our Doctors

We gave a special recognition to our doctors on National Doctor’s Day that many of you loved! We want our community to see the faces of these special physicians and learn more about them.

4. Dr. Cleanne Cass BBB Top Women to Watch

You shared in our joy in celebrating Dr. Cleanne Cass as the Better Business Bureau/Women in Business Networking 2016 Top Women to Watch. We are honored to have Dr. Cass as part of our team and are so grateful for her leadership.

3. Celebrating Our Volunteers

You helped us share the wonderful work of our Volunteers! We hold a banquet annually to celebrate our caring Volunteers.

2. Celebrating Our Staff

Our incredible staff deliver our superior services and care. You helped us honor staff who completed service milestones at our not-for-profit hospice!

1. Designated as One of the BEST Places For Nurses

And finally, one of our greatest achievements of the year – we are the FIRST hospice in the nation to be Pathway of Excellence® designated! The American Nursing Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Pathway to Excellence® program honors organizations that create positive work environments where nurses can thrive. Over 16k viewers took a moment to watch our video on the exciting news!


PARO – A Positive Substitute for Pet Therapy

Some people complain that technology can be dehumanizing. Those people have not yet had the privilege of meeting PARO.

PARO is the nickname of an advanced interactive therapeutic robot that is being used at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton with patients. Designed to look like an adorable baby harp seal and covered with synthetic fur, PARO is loaded with sensors in his long whiskers and entire body, enabling him to react to sound, light and touch. PARO blinks his eyes, moves his head, makes sounds and reacts as a real animal does when interacting with a human. PARO evokes the same emotional pleasure as a pet therapy animal but can serve patients in situations where real animals cannot.

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton added two of the baby seal robots to the clinical team a few years ago as part of an innovative approach to patient care. For patients in settings that do not permit animals, such as nursing homes, PARO is a tool to encourage patient interaction.

Occupational Therapist Angelene Volpatti highlights how PARO affected one patient. “The patient was well-educated and confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home. Her children were literally all over the country – Alaska, Florida and Washington state. They spoke frequently by phone, but conversations were limited mostly to what the patient had to eat and how she was feeling.

During our first meeting I discovered the family were animal lovers and always had pets. Pet therapy was not offered by the nursing home, so we brought PARO to visit. The patient responded to PARO just like she would a pet, speaking to him and petting him, smiling and enjoying PARO’s reactions. She immediately relaxed and was less physically contracted. The conversations with her children became more rich, as she talked about PARO and together they reminisced about pets.”

Research with PARO has shown that patients experience a reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure and are more calm after interacting with the robotic seal. They engage in more social interaction. Such positive outcomes, without the potential side-effects of pharmaceutical interventions, are convincing evidence of the value of robotic therapy.


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.