Focus On Quality Of Life

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So often people think that hospice is a place where people go to die.

This is not true, according to Lorna Hansen, patient care administrator for RTA Hospice and Palliative Care.

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Members of the Rim Country Hospice Foundation celebrate the completion of the group's decade-long dream with balloons. Guests of the group's ice cream social wrote the names of deceased loved ones on the white balloons, which were then released just prior to the official ribbon-cutting.

"Hospice is a philosophy of care that affirms life, regarding end-of-life events as a normal process," Hansen said. "Hospice focuses on quality of life."

RTA Hospice and Palliative Care has been a part of the Rim country for more than 10 years. Last August, the organization opened its beautiful new facility at 511 S. Mud Springs Road next to Frontier Elementary School.

Likely to rival the Payson Public Library as one of those landmarks that change the face of our community forever, it is not a sterile, small-town medical facility but a sprawling, campus-like edifice in a beautiful pastoral setting.

Besides a tastefully appointed patient wing, the new hospice house features bereavement areas, private patios, and includes offices for a chaplain, a medical team that includes three doctors, and administrative support areas.

The Rim Country Hospice Foundation spent 10 long years raising the money to build the $1.5 million facility through auctions, yard sales and countless other fund-raising activities and events.

Hansen oversees 80 employees and 40 volunteers who serve more than 400 patients and their families each year. RTA services residents as far north as Happy Jack and Blue Ridge to the northwest, Young to the east and Roosevelt Lake to the south.

The vision for RTA Hospice is to profoundly enhance the lives of individuals and families facing the end of life, by ensuring access to hospice care that promotes autonomy and provides spiritual, emotional, physical and financial peace, comfort and dignity.

"We offer a team approach to meeting the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and family," Hansen said. "A plan of care is developed and updated every visit in order to meet the unique personal and cultural needs of each patient and family. The team includes input from the patient, family, doctors, nurses, nurses aides, medical social workers, clergy and volunteers."

Medicare requires that a physician certify that a patient's life expectancy be six months or less, if the disease follows its normal course. Hospice patients do not have to be home or bed bound. Often patients are able to drive, work, and take pleasure in spending time doing things they enjoy and being with loved ones.

The cost of the program is covered by Medicare, AHCCCS and ALTCS state-funded programs, insurances and other health plans. But hospice provides care regardless of the individual's ability to pay.

"We believe everyone deserves the right to complete life's journey with dignity, support and acceptance in the setting where they feel most comfortable," Hansen said.

Health care professionals, patients or families can begin services by calling the RTA Hospice office at (928) 472-6340.

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