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.”