It’s true that hospice focuses on the needs of the patient, but they are also there for the needs of the patient’s family.
“End of life can be very stressful for everyone involved,” Roemischer said. “Sometimes, the family just needs to get away for a few hours.”
High Peaks Hospice has served more than 5,600 patients and their families in Franklin, Essex and Warren counties since it was founded in 1986.
Even though hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most health management organizations and private insurance companies, some expenses, like bereavement and mileage reimbursement, are largely funded by donations and community support.
High Peaks Hospice also relies heavily upon volunteers like Frank Montbriand, who discovered hospice about five years ago.
Montbriand took care of his mother for two-and-a-half years in Hague with his sister and her husband.
After his family contacted High Peaks Hospice to assist in taking care of his mother toward the end of her life, he immediately began to see the value in hospice care.
“If you go through that kind of experience you realize how physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting it can be,” Montbriand said.
Montbriand’s mother died of old age in Feb. 2006, the day after her 95th birthday. He became a hospice volunteer six months later and has now worked with about 30 patients.
The work has helped Montbriand understand that death is a natural part of life, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as a bad thing.
“A lot of people, when they get to the point where they can’t interact well with people, when they can’t remember situations and when they can’t take care of themselves, they’re ready to go,” Montbriand said. “I think as a society we need to honor that.”
Part of honoring that is accepting that, as people’s bodies begin to shut down, giving them comfort is paramount to improving their quality of life during their final days.