Methodist Healthcare hospice meets patients' medical and spiritual needs

12/19/2006

Special to the Advocate

MEMPHIS — With a smile on her face and a bright and cheery hello, Susan Schmidt, a hospice nurse with Methodist Hospice, walks into one of the rooms at the Overton Park Home Care Center in Midtown to visit one of her patients.  

Taylor Vinson has been under Hospice care for several months. He always looks forward to Schmidt’s visits. Besides providing medical care, she always lends a listening ear. 

“One of the advantages of my job is I have more time to talk and listen to my patients,” says Schmidt. “I can really focus on my patient’s spiritual needs.” 

Hospice involves caring for the whole person, including physical, social, emotional and spiritual care. To provide this care, an interdisciplinary team made up of a social worker, nurse, chaplain, home health aid and a volunteer work together to provide both physical and supportive care to patients and their families who are faced with a life-limiting illness. The team meets once a week with the medical director to discuss each patient’s care to determine if any changes need to be made.  Hospice care is provided for patients wherever they live, that can be a personal residence, a nursing home or the hospital.  

Vinson learned about hospice from friends in another nursing home. He says he saw a dramatic change in their lives after they were in hospice care. “Before Hospice, they were sad and cried a lot,” said Vinson. “Afterwards, they were a lot happier. It seems to be more of a religious thing.” 

The religious component is important and often brings peace to patients and their families. Stacy Slone, a social worker who visits Vinson, helped give him and his family something special. Vinson kept seeing the image of a house with a white fence and animals out in the yard. He believes this image shows him something of what lies ahead for him. Slone wrote the story as Vinson told it, found pictures to go with the copy, obtained a grant and had it bound into a book for Vinson and his family members.  

Vinson is pleased with all aspects of Methodist Hospice. When it comes to medical care, Schmidt acts as an advocate for Vinson. She keeps a close eye on his medications and ensures adjustments are made when needed. The multidisciplinary care he receives has helped stop the phantom pain in his legs. 

Vinson describes his hospice care workers as family, a loving group of individuals who deeply care about each other. “They walk in and my troubles stop. They bring me peace,” says Vinson. “If you have a problem, they will help you, talk with you, laugh with you,” said Vinson. “They take your mind off of your troubles.” 

Anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness is eligible for hospice. A physician referral is required. To learn more about Methodist Hospice, call 901-516-1600.