The construction of a new inpatient hospice facility on the campus of Redstone Village in Huntsville has fulfilled a dream for the staff and patients of Hospice Family Care (HFC). After breaking ground last year, the new building is complete and the staff has moved in.
HFC, Madison County's only not-for-profit hospice, provides care for terminally ill patients. The program began in 1979 with an all-volunteer staff at an area church and became the first hospice in Huntsville. The staff has cared for patients in their homes, nursing homes or wherever they lived. In 2013, HFC joined the health system and launched a campaign to raise money for the building. "The facility is now a reality, and as soon as our state survey is complete, we will welcome patients to our new home," says Business Development Manager Lee Shaw.
In the past, HFC hospice patients often went home directly from the hospital with IV medicines that were unfamiliar to family members. "Many family members were uncomfortable managing these medications, Shaw says. "But with this facility, we can take patients from the hospital to our facility overnight and transition them to oral medications before sending them home on hospice care.
"By having a dedicated space for these patients, along with a physician making rounds daily, we can better address the emotional side of hospice for the family. I believe the family is more at ease knowing that we are there to manage the patient's care."
The new 15-bed facility will enable HFC to offer a more comfortable setting for this level of service than was available in the past. The building is one level with parking near the front. Refrigerators and a stove make it easy for families to cook for their loved one, and family conference rooms also are available. Patient rooms are large with home-like furnishings. Every two rooms share an outdoor porch where patients and family can go for fresh air, and each quadrangle of rooms shares a family sitting area with a fireplace. A dedicated room is available for those who want to address spiritual needs. The facility also includes an outdoor courtyard with a fountain. "Our new place provides a more comfortable space for patients and their families. It is a serene area for people who are at the end of life," Shaw says.
HFC offers the four levels of hospice care required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Routine care in the patient's home is the most common level of care. Continuous care, also provided in a patient's home, is needed when a health issue occurs that requires extended nursing visits to manage the patient's condition.
"In our new facility, we can manage general inpatient care which is needed when treatment of a symptom cannot be managed feasibly at home. Whether it is pain, nausea, or agitation, if it can't be controlled in the home, we will change the level of care to general inpatient and bring the patient to our hospice facility," Shaw says.
HFC will also be able to provide respite care for the caregiver. "If a caregiver needs a break or has to go out of town, we have a bed available for the patient for up to five days," Shaw says.
In addition to hospice care, HFC also manages The Caring House, a childhood bereavement center for three to 18-year-olds who have lost a loved one. "We offer group meetings in the evenings and will go into homes as needed. We also offer specialty adult bereavement groups. All are free and open to the public," Shaw says. "Additionally, The Caring House is involved with Madison County's three school systems offering bereavement groups in 33 schools. We also facilitate crisis intervention in local schools in the event there is a death of a teacher or student."
HFC will minister to many people in the area. "We are looking forward to offering a broad continuum of care to patients in our area," Shaw says. "We want to provide an option for patients who need system management in a serene setting that is comfortable for the entire family. This is a dream come true for Madison County."
The new Hospice Family Care facility.
The Hospice Family Care staff.
Hospice Family Care; hospice levels of care; not-for-profit hospice in Alabama; The Caring House, Huntsville, AL; Redstone Village