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ALTON - “Homecare & Hospice Month” is recognized each November, and Jamie Perkhiser and Christie Kamp with OSF St. Anthony’s in Alton recently capped off the month of awareness by dispelling common hospice myths, sharing their perspectives, and more.

Perkhiser works as a Hospice Coordinator, while Kamp is an RN, BSN, CRRN, and manager of Home Health Care and Hospice for OSF. Both recently appeared on Our Daily Show! on Riverbender.com to close out this year’s Homecare & Hospice Month with some facts and insights.

“Some of the biggest myths that we see related to hospice is obviously there’s a fear associated with making that decision, but really with hospice, our focus is on comfort of the patient - what can we do?” Kamp said. “The patient and the family have decided that the treatment options aren’t working anymore and that they want to go down this path to comfort care, so that’s really what we’re providing for the patient and the family, and that support to kind of help you navigate through that process.

“Some people have the feeling - and justifiably so, I can understand it if you don’t really know anything about it - is that ‘I’m going to go on hospice and I’m just going to die, nobody’s going to care for me, that’s just it,’ and that’s really not it at all.”

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Kamp added that everybody’s experience is unique, and while some patients are only on hospice for a few days, she said one patient was on hospice for three years. She also said another “myth” was that medications are completely cut off once on hospice - in reality, medications are only limited to those that are necessary, which is different for each patient.

As the first point of contact for many families in this situation, Perkhiser said she recognizes the importance of not only first impressions, but knowing how much information or support a family needs.

“Some families have had experience with it and don’t have a lot of questions, others have no experience and they're completely lost,” Perkhiser said, adding she can have these initial conversations at the patient’s home or by phone. “I try to … answer those questions, kind of put their mind at ease a little bit, and then we want to make sure that we have everything in the home that we need.

“We have to be very upfront about what we provide and what we can’t provide. One of the myths may even be … that [a] nurse is going to be there for long periods of time, and that’s not the case. We adjust it, a nurse can be there every day, but they’re not going to stay for hours on end - that’s where we would utilize our volunteers to come in and offer that other support.”

Kamp said they have a nurse on staff who’s on-call 24/7 and that they also provide various equipment such as hospital beds, oxygen, wheelchairs, and more.

“Anything like that that is going to make the patient and the family’s life that much better, we provide that to them as well,” Kamp said. “I think just having that extra layer of support and a little bit of guidance going through that process, I think that helps tremendously.”

For even more information and insights about hospice and homecare from Kamp and Perkhiser, see the full interview at the top of this story or on Riverbender.com/video.

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