For those with a family member or loved one with a terminal illness or at the end stage of their life, the very idea of turning to hospice care for help may feel like they are giving up. In fact, hospice is a very specialized level of care that offers great comfort and hope during one of the most difficult times people face.
Lower Columbia Hospice is an outreach program of Columbia Memorial Hospital (CMH) serving Clatsop County, and it is the only program of its kind serving the community since 1981. Our mission is to provide compassionate in-home care to terminally ill patients with an emphasis on symptom management, while also helping both patients and their families experience the best possible quality of life. Our people-centered care team consists of nurses, social workers, therapists, spiritual counselors, aides, volunteers, and massage therapists.
Hospice patients and their families benefit from:
Lower Columbia Hospice services include:
Q: Where are services provided? click to open
A: Lower Columbia Hospice provides care to patients in their homes, care centers, assisted living facilities, hospitals, as well as in foster homes located within Clatsop County. Our mission is to meet the patient where they are to provide the care they need.
Q: Does a patient need to be close to death before being referred to Lower Columbia Hospice? click to open
A: No. Early referral to hospice is encouraged so patients and families have more access to support services and symptom control to better enhance quality of life.
Q: How does one engage the services of Lower Columbia Hospice? click to open
A: Family members, close friends and patients themselves can call Lower Columbia Hospice at 503-338-6230 to inquire about what services are available. Often times, a patient’s primary care provider will assist by making a referral to our service. Once a referral has been made, Lower Columbia Hospice will schedule a visit to evaluate the patient’s circumstances to determine the best level of care and if hospice is appropriate.
Q: Is Lower Columbia Hospice just for patients with cancer? click to open
A: No. Lower Columbia Hospice provides services to patients with any life-limiting disease.
Q: What kind of support is offered to family members? click to open
A: Lower Columbia Hospice’s staff provides 24-hour access for patients and their families. Nursing care, professional counseling, spiritual care, bereavement services, therapy services and volunteer services are designed to support family members as they care for their loved ones.
Q: Can a hospice patient still utilize their primary physician? click to open
A: The hospice team works closely with the patient’s primary physician to ensure that the patient’s needs are met.
Q: How long can a patient receive hospice care? click to open
A: There is no limit on how long a patient can receive hospice services if their condition remains appropriate for this level of care. There are times when a patient’s health improves and they no longer meet the qualifications for hospice. In this situation, the patient is discharged from Hospice; however, can be re-admitted if their condition deteriorates.
Q: Who pays for hospice care? click to open
A: Lower Columbia Hospice is certified by both a Medicare and Medicaid, each providing benefits for Hospice care. This benefit includes hospice team services, medications, medical supplies, and durable medical equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers and commodes. Most private medical insurance companies also cover hospice services. It is the policy of Lower Columbia Hospice to accept patients regardless of their ability to pay. In order to cover services which are not reimbursed through insurance plans, as well as for those patients who are either under or uninsured, Lower Columbia Hospice greatly relies on memorial gifts, donations, community support and the fundraising efforts of the Lower Columbia Hospice Advisory Board for funding.
The loss of a loved one is a profound experience. There is no one way to experience grief. Bereavement coordinators provide a breadth of supportive services to hospice families for 13 months after the passing of a loved one.
Resources and services offered by trained professionals include individual or family visits, telephone visits, participation in a variety of support groups, literature and other resources. Those in need of bereavement support are contacted by the program’s coordinator after the death of a loved one to offer support and encouragement to aid in the journey.
Lower Columbia Hospice is currently offering free bereavement and grief support group meetings twice per month:
1st Thursday of each month
2 to 4 p.m.
Bob Chisholm Community Center
Meeting Room #1
1225 Avenue A
Seaside, OR 97138
3rd Tuesday of each month
4:30 to 6 p.m.
2021 Exchange St.
Astoria, OR 97103
Hospice Volunteers bring great comfort to those in need. Those who volunteer for this special program have expressed that they feel they get back far more than they give.
Hospice Volunteers serve as a companion for terminally ill people and their families in Clatsop County. The loving kindness of hospice volunteers complements the medical care provided by the physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and massage therapists of Lower Columbia Hospice. The goal of the care team is to attend to the dying person as a whole—mind, body and spirit—so that they can pass through the stages of death in comfort and dignity.
One grateful family member wrote:
“Our family is very thankful for the caring concern of the hospice team. The comfort they gave us during the loss of a family member was so helpful and supportive. Thank you, Lower Columbia Hospice, for being with us!”
Our hospice volunteers are cherished members of the hospice team. Not only do they provide companionship and comfort to the patient, they also give each patient’s family members some much-appreciated support and rest.
As a hospice volunteer, you might:
While these are simple acts, they are acts of kindness. In caring for a hospice patient and their family, you are giving them the gifts of time and compassion. Dawn Young, a hospice volunteer said:
“There are many members of a hospice team. Each one contributes to making end-of-life care in our community special. I volunteer for hospice because I get to spend time with residents and their families at a challenging time in life. It makes me appreciate our human connectedness and brings into focus those qualities that really matter: connection, relationships and love.”
Hospice volunteer Celia Davis has been on both sides of Hospice care, first as a family member, as well as a caregiver:
“As a hospice volunteer and a mother of two, I’ve observed that dying has similarities to birthing. Both are highly emotional times of transition where individuals have significant roles. Entering the world and leaving are both beautiful, trying, exhilarating, and exhausting. Both can bring moments of intense sorrow and celebration. At either end of the spectrum, I remember thinking and feeling, as I did when I birthed my children and when I cared for dying parents, this experience is as real as it gets and I need to bring full attention and intention to the moment. My full self, intellectually, physically, and emotionally, needs to step forward.
“I do a variety of volunteer work but none is as deeply satisfying as hospice service. Family members and patients freely express their appreciation because for them, too, the filters are mostly or completely gone. An extended hand is unambiguously grasped. There is no doubt that in that moment, your very presence makes a difference.
“Both my parents died at home and we were assisted in their care by hospice teams. Losing someone is a difficult process; but the grief is lessened knowing that you gave your all. Hospice made that possible. I am forever grateful for the gift of hospice, both as a family member and as a volunteer.”
Across the board, hospice volunteers say that they receive far more than they could ever give. Volunteer Allen Partridge encourages others to consider volunteering their time:
“If you have ever thought of volunteering with hospice, don’t hesitate. My role has been as a visitor to patients in their homes. Helping people process the end of life is very important. Some patients are surrounded by family and loved ones, others have no one. My most rewarding experience as a hospice volunteer was visiting a person who had no one. We developed a true friendship over six months that I will never forget. Supporting people during this stage of life is the most fulfilling role you could ever play as a hospice volunteer—and it only takes an hour or two of your time per week. I encourage you to give it a try.”
Becoming a hospice volunteer is very different than volunteering through the hospital auxiliary or serving as a volunteer in any other areas. Should you have an interest in learning more about becoming a Lower Columbia Hospice volunteer, please call our volunteer coordinator at 503-338-6230
Lower Columbia Hospice conducts an annual 20-hour hospice volunteer training program. We believe it is essential to invest in training and development of our valued hospice volunteers so that they are well prepared for their experience.
We sincerely hope that you will consider joining our hospice volunteers and we look forward to talking with you.
Each day, Lower Columbia Hospice caregivers and volunteers give their time and assistance to members of the community who are at the end of life.
Your donations make it possible for Lower Columbia Hospice to care for all of our neighbors in Clatsop County. No one is turned away because of an inability to pay for hospice care. Donations help to cover the costs of skilled nursing care, medication and medical equipment for those who are under or uninsured.
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