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Hospice Happenings

Forbes Hospice Volunteers Honored

Forbes Hospice held its Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on May 3 at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association in Oakland. The Hospice’s theme for this event was “Hospice Volunteers: Promise of Hope.” The theme was based on an Emily Dickinson poem: “Hope is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all.”  Volunteers were presented with a “Hope Stone” as a token of appreciation.

According to Shelby Anderson, Director of Volunteer Services, Forbes Hospice has about 150 volunteers who contributed 17,000 hours of service in the past year. “Our volunteers are active in every aspect of the hospice program, including home care visits, in-patient care, 11th hour volunteering, Meet ‘n’Greet, administrative support, bereavement telephone support and facilitating bereavement support groups, spiritual care, and our auxiliary, Friends of Forbes Hospice,” said Ms. Anderson.

“Every day we see their gifts in action, bringing hope to all our hospice patients and their caregivers.”

Forbes Regional Hospital Offers Palliative Care Program

Beginning in July, Forbes RegionalHospital will offer a palliative care consultation service to physicians, nurses, patients and families. 

Palliative care is different from hospice and focuses on improving the quality of life of people facing serious and chronic illness. Supporting this programis a full-time familymedicine nurse practitioner, Terry Hurley, CRNP, who will be available to assist both inpatients and home-bound patients with pain and symptom management, care team coordination and communication.

Another aspect of Ms. Hurley’s job is to help patients determine their healthcare goals. “Palliative care is different for every patient,” says Ms. Hurley. “I work closely with patients to provide them with information regarding their care options, and then we formulate a plan individualized to themand their wishes.”

She works closely with all members of a patient’s care team, including physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists and others. Many patients receiving palliative care choose to be at home says Ms. Hurley. “They want to be at home where they are comfortable versus receiving aggressive care or treatments in a hospital setting.” 

Studies have shown that patients who receive palliative care actually live longer than patients with chronic illnesses and diseases who do not receive palliative care. “Several studies show that palliative care consults help patients’ quality of life,” said Randy Hebert, MD, Medical Director of Forbes Hospice. In addition to benefiting patients, palliative care programs benefit hospitals. “Hospitals that have palliative care programs experience decreased costs, since patients are choosing to be at home to receive care,” said Dr. Hebert. “We are able to decrease costs while improving patient outcomes.”

Since palliative care also focuses on communications between patients and their care teams, patients’ care tends to be better managed and to involve fewer high-level services such as stays in the intensive care unit. Patients are also better transitioned to home or hospice care, which decreases the rate of hospital readmissions. 

To learn more about the FRH Palliative Care Program, call 412.398.8454.

Forbes Hospice Partners With Second Grade Class at St. Maurice in Forest Hills

Forbes Hospice Chaplain, Janet Schaffran prepares her project for a St.Maurice second grade class. 

When former Forbes Hospice patient Laura Liberatore was admitted to Forbes Hospice inpatient unit in August of 2008, she never expected to leave. After palliative care intervention from Randy Hebert,MD,
MPH, Vice Chief, Division of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Forbes Regional and West Penn hospitals, and the hospice team, three months later Laura was discharged and able to go home to her husband and four-year-old daughter.

Since then, Laura has stayed in touch with staff at Forbes Hospice. A few months ago she called to tell us about her daughter making her First Holy Communion at St. Maurice in Forest Hills. She wondered if
Forbes Hospice could offer a project for her daughter’s second grade class. Janet Schaffran, Hospice Chaplain, sprang into action and developed a plan. Janet’s plan was that each child would “adopt” a hospice patient pen pal.

Janet crafted a ritual with their teacher, Mrs. Elissa Tunno, which connected each child with their patient and the importance of caring about those who are ill. Sharing the anticipation of First Holy Communion, the children wrote sweet letters to their very own pen pal. After a prayer, Janet gave each child a small loaf of bread to take home to share with their family.

The hospice team members delivered the letters to the homes of the hospice patients. Every patient or their family member wrote back to the children. “What a special memory the children will have,” stated Janet, “and hopefully they will always make the connection between their faith and reaching out to others.”

Forbes Hospice Staff Member Uses Skype to Connect Patient with Family

The inability to connect with out-of-town family members and loved ones is often painful for hospice patients. However, the ingenuity of a hospice employee allowed a grandmother to see and speak with her out-of-state granddaughter one final time.

Last month, the granddaughter made the trip to visit her grandmother, but unfortunately the grandmother was not lucid during her visit. Recognizing the importance of this connection for not only the granddaughter, but her grandmother, Sally Recio, Forbes Hospice Admissions Coordinator, suggested that they connect the two with Skype video conferencing.

“I use Skype to stay in touch with my grandchildren, so I thought that there was a good chance that the granddaughter would have a Skype account,” said Ms. Recio. She did have an account and Recio brought in her personal laptop from home to connect the two.

“Many times patients speak with family members over the phone,” Ms. Recio said, “but, seeing each other face-to-face makes the connection so much stronger.”

During a time when the grandmother was responsive, they were able to set up the video conference. At Forbes Hospice the patient and her daughter spoke with the patient’s granddaughter one last time.
“While it was obviously really important for the patient to speak with her granddaughter, you could also see how it benefited the patient’s daughter,” said Ms. Recio. “She became relaxed while the three spoke – it was like a stress was lifted off of her.”

This patient’s ability to see and speak with her granddaughter was not only beneficial to her, but also to her loved ones. Recognizing this, Ms. Recio says that Forbes Hospice plans to make Skype a regular resource in the future. “Skype allows patients to make those special connections one last time.”

Plates With Purpose Raise Money for Forbes Hospice

In 2004, Forbes Hospice Director, Maryanne Fello, contacted her friend, Mary Irwin-Scott of Riverside
Design Group, to design a plate as a gift for Forbes Hospice’s 25th Anniversary. What was originally
intended to be a one-time partnership has flourished into a long-term fundraising project for Forbes Hospice. The plates, created with recycled glass, feature a butterfly, which is the national symbol for Hospice. They were presented to the founders of Forbes Hospice at the 25th Anniversary celebration. After seeing people’s positive reactions to the plates, Maryanne saw an opportunity for ongoing fundraising.

Six years later, the proceeds from the sale of these beautiful plates has raised thousands of dollars for Forbes Hospice. After seeing the success of this partnership, Riverside Design Group reached out to other local organizations and Plates With Purpose was born. They have created unique designs for 11 other Pittsburgh non-profits.

If you are interested in learning more about Plates With Purpose or to make a purchase, please visit