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U-M CCC - Progress Newsletter Winter 2003 Online

Partnership Helps Patients Face End of Life Issues

"We believe no person should face the end of life alone. Our approach ensures that patients and families are cared for and supported every step of the way." -- Bernedette Koerner, M.S.N., COO, Arbor Hospice & Home Care

Since 1984, Arbor Hospice and Home Care has provided a comprehensive array of services to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and their families who face a life-threatening illness. The agency strives to create an environment where patients can achieve the highest quality of life possible within the limitations of their illness. To provide such care, the staff of Arbor Hospice and Home Care works very closely with the staff of local health care agencies and hospitals such as the U-M Health System.

"We believe that no person should face the end of life alone" says Bernedette Koerner, M.S.N., chief operating officer. "Our approach to care utilizes an interdisciplinary team of professionals including physicians, nurses, social workers, children's specialists, home health aides, chaplains and volunteers working together to ensure that patients and families are cared for and supported every step of the way."

While care is primarily home-based, it may also be provided in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in the 30-bed Arbor Hospice Residence located in Ann Arbor. In recent years, Arbor Hospice and Home Care has grown to address the needs of communities throughout a seven-county service area. Last year alone, Arbor Hospice and Home Care provided services to more than 1,400 patients.

Arbor Hospice and Home Care has also developed a successful partnership with the U-M Health System. This partnership is key to providing comprehensive services to patients and their families facing life-threatening illness. With the establishment of its new centralized intake system, Arbor Hospice and Home Care's intake coordinators are available to University physicians, staff nurses, and case managers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We work closely with the University staff to ensure continuity of services when a patient transitions from the care of the hospital to home care or hospice care," says Nathan Branch, R.N., B.S.N., hospital liaison. Arbor Hospice and Home Care's staff also works closely with the U-M Cancer Center's Patient Support Services Program to provide the cancer patients' families with grief counseling and support services.

Says U-M Cancer Center's Grief and Loss Program Coordinator Sue Wintermeyer-Pingel, M.S., R.N., C.S., O.C.N.,: "Referrals we make to Arbor Hospice and Home Care help us to extend the continuum of care for our patients, their families and loved ones who are facing end-of-life issues."

At Arbor Hospice and Home Care, grief support service begins with the family at the point of intake and continues for a minimum of 13 months after the patient's death. Widely recognized as a model of excellence, Arbor Hospice and Home Care offers more than 10 grief support groups that are age- and loss- specific, as well as individual therapy.

"Through the Pathfinders Program, children who are terminally ill and/or grieving the loss of a loved one come to grips with what is happening to them," says Jackie Gatliff, M.A.T.S., director of Grief Support Services.

In addition, Arbor Hospice works closely with Mott Children's Hospital to provide specialized care to terminally ill children. Caring for a dying child takes a unique set of skills and resources that many hospices do not offer. Through Arbor Hospice and Home Care's innovative Pathfinders Pediatric Hospice Program, young patients and their families are provided with care to help ease the pain and emotional turmoil of terminal illness.

The Arbor Hospice Residence serves as a training location for the U-M Medical School and the schools of Nursing and Social Work. The four area medical directors of Arbor Hospice are themselves on staff at the University and include Anjanette Stoltz, M.D., Turner Geriatrics; Asra Ahmed, M.D., U-M Cancer Center and U-M's Hematology/ Oncology Clinic at the Assarian Cancer Center; Susan Urba, M.D., U-M Cancer Center; and Lourdes Velez, M.D., U-M's Ypsilanti Family Practice Center.

The goal at Arbor Hospice and Home Care is to enable individuals to complete their lives with a sense of comfort, dignity and peace. Its ongoing partnership with the U-M helps to accomplish this goal.

For more information about Arbor Hospice and Home Care's services, please call 1-888-992-CARE (2273).

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This article is part of the Cancer Center's News Archive, and is listed here for historical purposes.

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