OSKALOOSA — “If there’s a demand there we want to meet it,” said Karol Rockwell, Mahaska Health Partnership’s Director of Hospice.

She was commenting on the hospice board’s recent discussions regarding the possibility of constructing a hospice facility in Oskaloosa. MHP has offered hospice services since 1981. Recently, they observed facilities in Pella, Mercy-Johnston and Newton to help formulate a plan. Hospice workers care for patients in their homes.

The mission of Mahaska Hospice is to provide skilled nursing care and emotional support to persons in the last phase of incurable illness. Included under this mandate, in addition to skilled nursing care, are such things as the services of a social worker, who can help with financial matters, as well as emotional support and counseling, a variety of therapy services, homemaker and home care aides, who can help with light housekeeping and personal care, and education on end-of-life issues and bereavement counseling. Hospice also offers grief support groups for children ages 5 to 14.

Three types of care are offered by hospice.

• Inpatient: This is for when the patient is in a period of crisis, such as when pain is out of control or the patient is experiencing nausea or vomiting. Medicare pays for this service.

• Respite: This is to offer the regular caregiver some time away from caregiving duties, such as when the caregiver is experiencing exhaustion or has outside commitments. The patient can go into the hospital for up to five days, with Medicare picking up the expense.

• Routine: This is basic day-to-day care for which a room-and-board type rate is charged. The patient may stay at the facility as long as they choose. Medicare does not cover this service.

Said Rockwell, “Studies have shown that patients prefer to stay in their homes. However, with many families no longer living in the same area, often there is not a caregiver to help with the daily activities of life and the patient can no longer safely stay in their own home. A hospice house in our community would allow these people to stay in Mahaska County, in a home-like atmosphere, where friends and family could visit at any time.”

According to MHP Administrator Jay Christensen, the impetus behind the investigation into building a facility has been community interest.

“Our patients and families have expressed interest in having the services of a hospice house available locally, and our board has always seen it as their mission to meet the community’s needs,” he pointed out.

MHP is interested in hearing the public’s thoughts about the possibility of building a hospice house. Local residents are encouraged to log on to www.mahaskahealth.com, follow the link to the survey on the right side of the home page in the yellow box and fill out the hospice house survey. The questions are:

• Do you feel there is a need for a hospice house in Mahaska County?

• Do you know of a person who could have benefited from a hospice hose located in Mahaska County?

For more information about Mahaska Hospice, visit MHP’s Web site or call (641) 672-3260.

Herald Staff Writer Sue Salisbury can be reached at salisburys@oskyherald.com

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