Not About Dying

Hospice offers, choices, dignity


Hospice is about living, not dying.

As National Hospice Month is commemorated this November, the staff at Hospice Compas­sus in Payson wants residents in their service area to see what they do contributes to the quality of life.

Hospice Compas­sus serves residents from Tonto Basin to Happy Jack and out to Forest Lakes.

While hospice care is officially for people with a diagnosis giving them six months or less to live, the service provided, both in quality and quantity, can result in so much improvement in a client’s health, they “graduate” or leave the program.


Dorothy Kaufman is one of the recent graduates from Hospice Compassus care. Her doctors ordered the service for her in the spring of 2013 and her health improved so much she didn’t need the assistance after a little less than two months.

Dorothy Kaufman is one of the graduates from Hospice Compassus.

“I was terrified. Hospice was the death house in my mind,” Kaufman said.

That all changed with that first visit, she said.

Easily at least three clients make this transition every year, according to Mary Jane Rogers, executive director.

Kaufman’s doctors felt there was nothing more they could do after treating her for several ailments and a surgery to remove a mass and part of her intestinal track — which she later learned was cancer when she received a letter from the lab telling her they had been able to get all the cancer.

She said her doctors did not tell her she had cancer or that they were putting her in hospice. She didn’t learn about going into hospice until her first visitor from Hospice Compassus came to her home.

“I learned about all the good things they did,” Kaufman said of her first visit from a hospice representative.

Kaufman was provided hospice care for a couple of months until she improved enough to graduate.

“I have never been so encouraged and uplifted as I was by the people who came to me from Hospice Compassus,” she said.

The encouragement and the honest concern for her well-being is what she remembers most about her hospice care.

The health care professionals who visited her would always check her vitals and always asked if she needed help with a shower or washing her hair.

“That wasn’t anything I needed. Besides my bathroom is too small to have two people in it and I had someone take me to the beauty shop for my hair,” she said.

Patty Kaufman, no relation to Dorothy Kaufman, coordinates the volunteers that work with Hospice Compassus.

“The services a patient receives is really up to them (though their primary care physician has some say as well),” she said. In addition to taking vitals, staff can help the patient with their medications, set up a pillbox for them or something similar and provide numerous other services. Hospice can also provide medical equipment and supplies.

“If it hadn’t been for them, I think I would have been gone by now,” Kaufman said.

She misses the visits. In fact, she misses them so much; she said she almost wishes she could have stayed with them.

Kaufman said she tells everyone she can how wonderful the people at Hospice Compassus were to her and encourages them to learn more about all that can be provided through the services.

Kaufman has resided in Payson since 1977 and had never heard about all hospice can do until her doctors ordered the services for her.

Even if a client does not make the kind of improvement Kaufman did, their life is often extended — again because of the quality and quantity of care provided by the team-care approach. Numerous individuals serve clients — and their families. A team can include the hospice medical director, the client’s primary care provider, experienced nurses with varying degrees of training — from RNs to CNAs, social workers and therapists, hospice aides, chaplains and bereavement counselors and trained volunteers.

“We provide for the whole patient — medically, emotionally, socially and spiritually,” said Linda Robertson, director of clinical services with Hospice Compassus. The care can also include help around the house, shopping and other errands, even assistance taking care of bill paying.

The trained clinical teams (doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.) create plans of care designed specifically for each patient and their loved ones to enhance comfort and quality of life.

Creating a quality of life at the end of life is at the heart of the work of Hospice Compassus. The care provided confirms the belief that it is important to make every moment of life as meaningful as possible, from the first days of a life-limiting illness to the last. Hospice Compassus provides services to relieve symptoms, manage pain and give emotional and spiritual support.

Diagnoses commonly associated with hospice care include: cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alz­heimer’s disease, respiratory disease, liver/renal disease, AIDS/ HIV, adult failure to thrive, neurological disease, stroke or coma. Hospice appropriate individuals may exhibit some or all of the following: frequent hospitalizations, progressive weight loss, deteriorating mental abilities, recurrent infections, and specific decline in condition.

The care can be provided in the patient’s home, the home of a friend or relative, assisted living facility, nursing home and if medically necessary, to hospitalized individuals. Hospice has been available in the Rim Country for 18 years.

Referrals for hospice care can come from the patients themselves, families, friends, health care professionals and spiritual counselors. Rogers said anyone with a concern about someone’s need for care can call and the staff at Hospice Compassus will handle getting the necessary orders from the individual’s primary care provider. Hospice service is fully covered by both Medicare and Medicaid and many insurance plans.

To learn more about Hospice Compassus, call (928) 472-6340.


Pat Randall 3 years, 2 months ago

Hospice in Payson charges enough to pay employees and not need volunteers. My husband was under their care at Powell House and what a fiasco that was. He was in worse shape when he left than when he went in, but they discharged him on a Friday and said he no longer fit the criteria. He could only move his arms and turn his head slightly, and could not talk. But according to them he was no longer under their care because of their criteria. I had to give him his medicine as Powell house was no longer able to give it to him as he was not under a drs. care any longer. Thank God we had a friend in Casa Grande to help us get him moved to a Hospice care place in Mesa the following Monday where he was treated like a king and no high dollar charge from Hospice. Within 15 minutes after he arrived in Mesa our friend, and the head nurse along with two drs. from Hospice was at his bedside. I have held this in for the 3 years since he passed on but not any longer. Anyone that doesn't believe me, I have the papers to prove what I am saying.


Ronald Hamric 3 years, 2 months ago

Pat, Let me assure you that everyone's experience with Hospice Compassus was not like yours. I'm certain there are many who had the experience I did as my wife spent her final three days in that facility. They even stayed in touch with me for a year afterword to make sure I was adjusting to my loss. I spent not one copper penny for her care there. Their attention to my wife's needs in her final days were very caring and professional. They even provided a bed in her room so I could stay with her till the end. I have also had friends who likewise spent their final days at that facility and I witnessed the same level of caring treatment that was accorded my wife. likewise I have had friends who "graduated" like Ms. Kaufman after a short stay at their facility.

You have posted your similar experiences with PRMC so it leads one to ask if there are any medically oriented services in Payson that you have had a positive experience with as regards your husband's treatment and care in his final days or your care for that matter? I have stated before that I feel we are fortunate to have what we do in such a rural environment. It certainly is not the same as in a more metropolitan environment such as exists in the valley cities but it is better than many in like places such as Rim Country have. Just my view. As usual you are perfectly within your rights to disagree.


Kim Chittick 3 years, 2 months ago

Ron, our experience with Hospice was very similar to yours. We were caring for an elderly friend who had a stroke and was no longer able to care for himself or be alone. He had no one and asked my husband to not let him die alone.

At the time, the hospice facility here was not yet built. Our friend did not have the funds to move in to a nursing home, and was unable to get state help as he owned property elsewhere, so our friend was moved in to our home; and hospice was recommended by his physician as our friend was diagnosed to be terminally ill. Hospice nurses, LVN's, or CNA's visited our home every day, some, more than once a day. They medicated him, bathed him, provided every level of care that he needed. They also helped my husband and I with the emotional process. When our friend passed late on a Friday evening, the on-call nurse came out and did everything that was required as well as so much more that was not. She took care of his room, stripping his bed and removing the bedding, so we did not have to deal with it. She removed any medical detritus that had been left behind. Also, like the experience you had, they stayed in touch with us, and helped tremendously with the grieving process. And... we paid not one single cent. 2 and a half years ago when my Father-in law was moved to Hospice Compassus facility, I was beyond impressed with the beautiful facility and the fact that the level of care and compassion, not only for the patients, but for the family was exemplary. Dad was there less than 24 hours before he passed, however, during that time, we all felt like we were wrapped in the loving arms of angels. And...there has not been one bill, invoice, or monetary demand from Hospice. Rather, there have been cards, notes, and letters helping us through the grieving process. Pat, I am so very sorry that you went through such a horrendous situation with your beloved husband. Watching our most loved ones go through so much while we are virtually helpless to do anything for them is agonizing. I can assure all who read this that your experience with Hospice was categorically NOT the norm. And I do NOT have the papers to prove it, as there were NEVER any received.


Pat Randall 3 years, 2 months ago

Kim, and Ron, I am happy for you that you had a good experience with Hospice.

I vented yesterday so won't put any thing else today except to say I have all the Medicare papers showing how much they paid. My husband was in Powell house not at the Hospice bldg. so I was paying Powell house and had to pay extra when only one person came from Hospice to shower my husband as they had to use a lift and it took two people.

Ron, to your question about the care my husband received in Payson NO. I have a very good primary care and cardiologist here in Payson. Also a dr. who does acupuncture. Depending on who the drs and nurses are in ER I have had good care. The Payson Fire dept. has great paramedics.


Ronald Hamric 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm Glad to hear that Pat. If there were problems/issues for you here in Payson in that regard, as someone I have never met personally, still I would feel the need to try and help you through the problems until you're expectations are met. That's what people are supposed to do, help one another,and in the end, God gets the glory.


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