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Local hospice programs still growing

March 4, 2011

PARKERSBURG - Local hospice programs continued to grow in 2010.

Hospice offers specialized care for terminally ill patients, their families and caregivers with the services offered in the patient's home or through contracts with long-term facilities, like nursing homes.

Amedisys Hospice Services in Vienna reported over the past year, its census has doubled, staff expanded, a new full-time volunteer coordinator is now on board, the agency sponsored numerous community outreach projects and it began offering a monthly bereavement support group open to anyone in the community who has suffered a loss.

Article Photos

Photo by Pamela Brust
Becky Dotson, RN, director of operations at Amedisys Hospice Care of Parkersburg, and Brandon Coss, volunteer coordinator for Amedisys, look over a seasonal motivational promotion.

Becky Dotson, RN, director of operations at Amedisys, said her agency has added over four jobs over the past year, and has a couple more positions now available created by program growth.

"We not only serve our hospice patients and their families, we provide jobs in the community, as well as outreach projects and programs," Dotson said. "When we have programs at area long-term care facilities, the activities are not just for our patients, they are open to all the residents there. We had a free children's carnival in the park in the fall to thank the community and offered a free community forum with an attorney who discussed retirement planning and related issues," she said.

"We also focus on community education and offer speakers to talk about hospice services."

A new volunteer coordinator has come on board. Brandon Coss, of Waverly, joined the agency in October.

"We currently have 14 active volunteers, we're always looking for more," Coss said. "I love this job, and I love the generosity of the community. Every volunteer I have is eager for another assignment, they are incredible people.

"Volunteers can read, do yardwork, light housekeeping, run errands, provide respite care, we have a barber and beautician available," Dotson said.

The program provides 24/7 on-call nursing services, coordinates with other resources, as well as providing other hospice program services to patients and their families.

The bereavement support group, which is open to the community, meets at noon on the second and fourth Tuesday at the Amedisys office. For more information on the program, volunteer opportunities, or to schedule a speaker to talk about Hospice, contact the office, located in Suite 206 at Grand Park Drive in Vienna, at 304-424-6270.

Another local program, the Housecalls-Hospice Program, is headquartered at 1226 Market St. in Parkersburg.

Marcia Metz, administrator of hospice services, and Christina Lerch, patient care representative, said the agency was pleased to receive joint accreditation in October.

"That was a big accomplishment. There are standards, guidelines relating to patient safety that must be met to earn the accreditation, they come in and survey, review the agency, this is the first time we've had this accreditation. It's not required, but it lends creditably because of the high standards, it's not an easy process," Metz said.

"We also had a new position open in January, a team leader. Registered nurse Carmela Gallagher was appointed to the post. She had been a full-time nurse, and was promoted. We created the position because of growth," Metz said. "She oversees the staff that go into the field, works with patient care and the staff."

Gallagher has more than 20 years nursing experience, including nine years with hospice.

Metz said patient numbers continue to grow at the agency.

"We service Wirt, Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane and Wood counties. The largest increase has been in Wirt, Calhoun, Pleasants and Ritchie. In addition to serving hospice patients at their home, the program also serves patients in long-term care facilities, the agency has contracts with five facilities and goes into assisted living facilities including Wyngate and the Masonic Home," Metz said.

"We also offer general in-patient care in a hospital setting," Lerch noted. "The serenity rooms at CCMH were created in 2008."

Volunteer coordinator Kathy Albright said she had five new recruits last year.

"We're looking for someone who has a heart for service, and we're always looking for more volunteers. They may do clerical duties, office work, patient care, like visiting the patients, or caregivers, provide respite for the caregivers, just being a friend. We also started a new program, volunteers specializing in bereavement care. They follow the families along with the chaplin and social worker for 13 months after the death," she said. "I'm also available to speak to interested groups and organizations."

Housecalls-Hospice has offices at 1226 Market St. To schedule a speaker or obtain more information on the program, call 304-424-3901, or check the website at, there is also information on the program on the Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital website.



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