ALBANY -- Englewood Health Systems recently expanded its umbrella to include other services. At the start of the new year, the company, which has focused primarily on home care, broke out into hospice.
"We saw a need for some years, but we were not able to maintain that level of care," said Englewood Marketing Director Tony Alligood. "This was something we wanted to launch this year.
"It's exciting for us to provide these services."
Englewood provides hospice care in patients' homes. Conducting that level of care for those facing their final days can be of benefit to more people than just the patients themselves, Alligood said.
"At some point, one of our family members will have a terminal illness," he said. "Hospice is so important to the caregiver. It serves them as much as the patients, if not more so."
The service provided to patients' families can include emotional support, but representatives can also work as advocates as well.
"We make calls to make sure the patients get the equipment they need," Alligood said. "We try to provide as much for the family as we can. We do a lot of legwork for patients."
Englewood's hospice care team includes a patient's physician, a medical director, a hospice director, registered nurses, a pharmacist, medical social workers, personal care aides, a spiritual care chaplain and volunteers. Dietitians and therapists are also involved in care.
While hospice care is generally for those in their final days, submitting oneself to it is not necessarily a death sentence.
"It has been possible for patients to come out of hospice," Alligood said.
Hospice service benefits are provided by Medicare, Medicaid, most insurance companies and private funds. Patients may get in through self-referral.
Englewood's hospice care is provided in 21 counties, with the main office located on North Jefferson Street in Albany. The company conducted a soft launch of its services in the latter part of 2009.
"Providing Southwest Georgians access and choice to comprehensive and compassionate hospice and palliative care is humbling," said Englewood CEO Joyce Barlow in a statement. "We believe in celebrating life and relationships and living out each day fully. Facing a life-limiting illness deserves the comfort and quality care of caring people.
"We are so pleased to be providing quality hospice care to the communities we serve."
When patients enter into hospice, they become more than just patients to those giving the care, Alligood said.
"We know celebrating life is important," he said. "These people become a part of our lives. They become a part of our family. It's because of them we continue to be here."
Officials with the hospice are currently in the process of planning a run/walk fundraiser dubbed "Run to Remember," which is set to take place later in the year.
Englewood is a locally-owned company. For 25 years, it has provided the region with home care while operating two personal care homes and continuing to grow. In addition to adult services, the company also offers pediatric home health.
"We started out with personal care and built on that," Alligood said. "We are doing so many things. We are so pleased to be a part of the community. It's so rewarding."
For more information, call (229) 435-2109 or visit www.englewoodhealthsystems.com.