Sharing hospice concerns

To the editor:

In the evening in the spring of 1983 I was called to our Marshall nursing home to see a patient about a medical condition. While there I was asked if I had time to visit with the then director of the nursing home, Cathy Bond, and Sue Jackson (one of our hospital nurses who was asked to help out that evening at the nursing home). My father had died of cancer under my care in 1980. The three of us decided to try to organize a hospice program for Marshall. The following excerpt was taken from my book, “History of Medical Care in Lyon County,” which was published last winter.

“In July 1984 the Prairie Home hospice, which was organized the previous year to provide professional and volunteer services in coordination by hospice for terminally ill patients, hired it first coordinator, Lydia Wulff-Palmer. Lydia, formerly of Graceville, graduated from Moorhead State University with a B.S. in nursing with a public health nurse credential. She had a 17-year interest in hospice nursing, beginning with her father’s brain cancer. He was cared for in the family farm home.

Her place was taken by Deb Schoenlaub, M.S.W. as program coordinator and Monica Stanton, R.N., as patient care coordinator. Dr. Wayne Taintor, one of the organizers, became the first hospice board president.

Training of volunteers began with Lydia, and by 1986 52 volunteers were available in parts of Lyon County. This organization was expanded to include the rest of Lyon County and Lincoln, Pipestone and Murray counties.

This organization had its growing pains, but is doing well in providing care for area cancer patients. Medicare certification was accomplished as well. By 1977 efforts were made nationally to standardize both hospital and office records in their organization. All doctors were to attend classes in this effort and taught by trained nurses. Following its required standardization, it became easier for governmental people to review records regarding their perception of quality of medical care. Finally by 2005 we even had a Hospice House in Marshall.”

It makes me feel sad that our local hospital has now declared that unless they take over the hospice program totally, they intend to stop allowing patients to be cared for in our local nursing home.

They have brought in an organization called Compassionate Care that has become or will become established in some hospitals in 16 states, including Minnesota.

From what I have been able to ascertain, there will not be any greater benefit to this community. They claim that they may be able to provide help to the extent of 15 hours a week for patients. This means two hours a day. When a worker is assigned 10 patients at a time it does not allow much additional help. Further, it appears that costs for patient care with this new program will become increased. We have high costs now.

It appears that the only way that our local hospice organization can decently continue would be to fund another hospice house to care for the patients that need that care. The late Dr. Kenneth Peterson’s widow, Stella, who died last year, was one of those who benefited from hospice.

Wayne Taintor, MD, FACS