By LaShante Keys, Empath Health Community Partnership Specialist
November holds special feelings of thanks, giving, love and family. Did you know this month also marks the observance of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month?
Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, is honored to care for the Pinellas County community for more than 41 years. As the only local nonprofit hospice, they are dedicated to providing compassionate care and comfort through every journey with patients and their families.
Care for parents
Millicent Battle, of St. Petersburg, is thankful for the Suncoast Hospice care for her parents when they were ill with lung cancer. James Battle, a World War II-era Army veteran, and Jeannetta Battle were originally from South Carolina and Georgia, respectively. They moved to Florida sometime around the 70s, raised a family and retired after longtime careers at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. When their health worsened, their doctors referred them to Suncoast Hospice.
“All of my life he (father) smoked. It was a time when people could smoke anywhere and my mother was exposed to second-hand smoke, which we now know is deadly as well. My father became ill first. They (hospice) were called in. I believe because of the care my father received that my mother was able to feel comfortable having that type of care herself,” Battle shared.
She added that the family benefited from the option and support of Suncoast Hospice to help care for her parents in their home.
“I’m grateful that both of them were at home because that was their choice. It did them well because there is more access at home and they were able to accept in friends, family members and coworkers.”
Healthcare decision making
As a young woman of about 25 years old, Battle and her siblings became caregivers and decision makers for their mother.
She explained, “She was the caretaker of the family and took care of my father during his illness. It’s hard when you are used to being cared for and then becoming a caretaker. There were six of us kids who had to collectively make decisions. She would tell one person one thing and another person another thing. The importance of having a living will or that one key person to speak and make those decisions is imperative.”
Guidance and relief
The care team smoothly coordinated services and made things easier for the family.
“There were four of us in the area and we would try to go and take care of my mother. I remember the equipment. I remember her having the things that she needed during that time. That was very seamless. They worked well together. Things were taken care of. It was a comfort. It’s like they stepped in to lead us through a difficult time and process,” Battle said.
The team’s expertise and instruction were a great support.
She noted, “I remember them (team) being able to come in and teach. Doctors prescribed the medications but they gave that reinforcement of the medications, what they were for and how to dispense them. It felt like I was more knowledgeable and comfortable providing the care.”
Their caring demeanor brought added comfort.
“I remember their loving spirit. At a difficult and stressful time, they were able to bring a calmness. I remember my father being more comforted when they came in, stayed to do what was needed or talked with the doctor to get something resolved. I remember gratefulness for them. I will probably hold that in my heart for the rest of my life and want to be able to give back for what I received,” she said.
Suncoast Hospice is here for you and your family. Visit SuncoastHospice.org or call (727) 467-7423 to learn more about services.