Hospice care ‘comes from the heart’

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NEW HARTFORD — Someone recently asked Hospice Registered Nurse Kristy Enea, “How can you work in hospice — it must be so sad?”

She answered, “I love providing highly-skilled, compassionate care because I know I make a huge difference in the quality of a person’s life. I love that I can use my training as a nurse to bring comfort and dignity to my patients, and seeing the relief on their faces and on the faces of those who care for them. I love that I can offer practical solutions to patients and families, and help them find more meaningful moments at the end of life.”  

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time, Enea said, to draw attention and raise awareness of this special kind of care.

Hospice care is provided locally through Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc., at 4277 Middle Settlement Road. Enea said it takes great compassion to be a hospice nurse and that such a calling “comes from the heart.”

She knows generally in what territory she will be working each day, but Enea said patients’ needs come on a day-by-day basis. Patients may change rapidly, so she never knows for sure where she might need to go. Terminal patients are usually visited every other day, unless their needs require additional care, the nurse explained.

A hospice nurse will also “touch on certain things” when a family needs it, said Enea. When she goes into a home, Enea said she will first check the patient for pain and make sure they are comfortable. She then examines their vitals and conducts a head-to-toe assessment check. The family’s needs are also reviewed and you “try to treat everything,” she said.

“You’re not only treating the patient, but everyone else involved in their care,” said Enea, adding that it’s also her job to give compassion and support to the patient’s family members and caregivers. “I feel doing this job comes from the soul. You have to really love what you do. It’s not something probably everybody can do — it’s not textbook at all.”

Enea recalled that one of the last things her grandfather told her, before he passed about 20 years ago, was that she should become a nurse. Obviously she took the notion to heart.

“I always wanted to give back somehow,” she said. “But being a hospice nurse was something I just knew I wanted to do. You have to be a compassionate, caring person. You have to be at someone’s bedside and be there for their family. You’re there 100 percent of the way.”

During National Hospice and Palliative Care Awareness Month, Enea said she hopes more people can realize how important hospice care is in order to provide personal care and support for people’s end-of-life needs.

“Hospice is really important to me, because I want to treat everyone with dignity and respect — I want to treat them like my family,” the nurse said. “I do my job knowing this is how I’d want my loved ones to be taken care of.”

What is Hospice Care

Hospice care provides pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible.

In 2019, Hospice & Palliative Care served more than 1,000 hospice and palliative patients and their families.

Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans and HMOs. 

Many people only consider hospice care in the final days of life, but hospice is ideally suited to care for patients and family caregivers for the final months of life.

What is Palliative Care

Palliative care brings supportive care to people earlier in the course of a serious or chronic illness and can be provided along with other treatments they may still be receiving from their doctor.

Hospices are the largest providers of palliative care services and can help answer questions about what might be most appropriate for a person. 

Hospice and palliative care are available to people of all ages with any serious or life-limiting illness.

Hospice and palliative care combine the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support for patients and family caregivers. Hospice and palliative care can make a profound difference and help maximize the quality of life for all those they care for.

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