Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Grant Helps Hospice Extend Care in Crises

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Grant Helps Hospice Extend Care in Crises

Article excerpt

Melvina Jurkowski had round-the-clock attention from professional caregivers in her Beaver home for the last 48 hours of her life. They were provided by Catholic Hospice under what was then a trial extended caregiving program.

"They knew when to do the morphine and stuff. ... We wouldn't have been able to do that," said Mrs. Jurkowski's father, Mel Bundy, also of Beaver. They also gave her family a break from the stress of constant vigil.

"They spent the night at her bedside, and they did a wonderful job," Mr. Bundy said. "I didn't know there was such service like that out there."

There wasn't, at least not in this area, until Catholic Hospice instituted its P.E.A.C.E. program (Personalized Education, Assistance, & Caregiving at End of Life). Catholic Hospice, recent recipient of a $25,000 grant from the George H. Campbell, Lillian S. Campbell and Mary S. Campbell Foundation, will use the funds for P.E.A.C.E., providing extended care to patients with extenuating circumstances, such as a caregiver who is exhausted or elderly.

Medicare only covers continuous caregiving for a "physical or emotional crisis [affecting] the patient or the caregiver," explained Beth Stroud, community education/corporate relations director of Pine-based Catholic Hospice. Medicare says that crisis should be resolved within three to five days.

"The highest percentage of our patients never experience a crisis as defined by federal law, so they never qualify for the continuous care portion of the hospice benefit," said Cristen Krebs, Catholic Hospice founder and executive director. "They simply need an extra set of hands to help and comfort."

Through P.E.A.C.E., patients under routine hospice care who qualify will have specially trained caregivers for a minimum of four hours to a maximum 24 hours at a time. The caregivers will be able to do personal care, light housekeeping and meal preparation, and provide safety support. …

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