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Hospice Heroes

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November 22, 2004

Thomasville - 86-year-old Carl Helton has cancer, and doctors have done all they can to treat him. Now, with the help of hospice workers, he's living each of his final days to the fullest. Helton says, "I feel fortunate to have these ladies sitting on my side, because they have helped me in my sickness."

And the primary people who have helped him through his illness are his sisters, Mavis and Donnis. Mavis says, "We're all he's got, and he's all we've got too, just about, so that's why we're taking care of him."

Donnis says, the two, "Take one day at a time and with the help of hospice, we can manage it." Manage with health professionals who do more than treat the body, they heal the heart. "Oh, I love him," says Health Tech Jerlene Hayes. "He is just one of the best patients I've got."

Health Tech Norma Brooks says, "When the family is supportive, the patient seems to get more healing and more strength also from the family as well as the caregivers and the hospice staff."

And sometimes those caregivers need just as much strength from the workers, as the patients do. Social Worker Sara Beth Pomeroy says, "I feel like we need to be here as much for the caregiver as much as the patient, because it's really hard on them."

But in the end, at the end, it seems all the hard work is worth it, because Hospice patients don't want to spend their last days in the hospital. Carl Helton says, "It's good to be home."

Norma Brooks says, "That's what we're here to do. To help them enjoy those last times, an enjoyable time." Because Hospice isn't about dying, it's about living everyday to the fullest. Close to one Million Americans were served by hospice workers in 2003.

posted at 5:07 PM by karen.collier@walb.com