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News Roundup: April 8, 2016

Best care is home care

Published by Dodge City Daily Global
By Roger Bluhm
April 8, 2016

Joanna Nicholas of Dodge City spends her time watching TV and doing puzzles from her apartment at Park Plaza.

She's already beaten odds once and is trying to keep beating them.

Nicholas is elderly -- although she asked her age not be put in the newspaper -- and suffering from lung cancer.

"They told me I had eights months to live unless I did chemotherapy," Nicholas said. "I did the chemo, but there were other side effects, like neuropathy in my feet.

"Thankfully, with her help, I was able to get pills to make my feet numb. I'd rather have no feeling than those pins and needles. It's like walking through a sticker patch with no shoes on while a child."

The "her" Nicholas pointed to was Cody Shelor, a nurse with Hospice of the Prairie, who attends to Nicholas' medical needs and works in conjunction with Nicholas' primary doctors.

"She's been with us for a little more than two years," Shelor said. "She's a delight to work with."

Nicholas said Shelor keeps her blood where it should be.

"She checks it to see if I'm too heavy or too light," Nicholas said, referring to how thin the blood is. If her blood isn't kept thin, it could lead to a stroke. "I was given six months after the chemo and that was in January. In June, they'll check the lung cancer again and, it it's gotten wiggly, they'll give me more chemo."

Despite her health conditions, Nicholas, who is not in the hospice program, but is in the home health care program, is enjoying life at home.

"I have a bath aide and an aide who helps with making the bed," she said. "I also have Beverly Leach from the Senior Companions Program in Hays which made sure I got to every doctor's appointment, chemo treatment and even got me groceries."

Nicholas is a good example of what Hospice on the Prairie does for those with a terminal illness diagnosis or who just needs home health care.
"A terminal illness diagnosis isn't the end," said Julie Pinkerton, executive director of Hospice on the Prairie. "There could be a long time from diagnosis to that end and our staff makes sure they are there for the patients and their families."

Pinkerton admits caregivers often get attached to the people they are working with.

"I think caring makes them better caregivers," Pinkerton said. "If caregivers are emotionally attached, they take better care of their charges.

"We offer a lot of services for our employees when they get emotional in the care of their clients."

Hospice of the Prairie offers Medicare-certified home health for all ages, those like Nicholas, and grief support services as well as the hospice care. The grief support services are also offered to anyone in the community.

"Medicare-certified home health is different than custodial home care," Pinkerton said. "We work directly with the client's primary doctor to make sure we are giving the best care possible."

The group is also a not-for-profit organization with medical director Dr. R.C. Trotter and a volunteer board of directors.
Nicholas is just happy to be home.

"I sold my house and moved in here," she said. "This is my home and I'm grateful to be able to stay here and not have to go into a nursing home.

"It's been a big relief staying in my own home."