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Savannah Stalwart: Hospice Savannah

  • Hospice Savannah’s Hospice House is on Eisenhower Drive. (Steve Bisson/ Savannah Morning News file photo)
  • Logan
  • A Hospice Savannah patient celebrates Christmas in July with her grandchildren. Hospice Savannah helped the family celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas at Hospice House this summer. (Submitted photo by Les Wilkes for Hospice Savannah)

Location and hours.

Administrative offices are at 1674 Chatham Parkway, open Monday- Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hospice Savannah’s Hospice House is at 1352 Eisenhower Drive, always open; www.HospiceSavannahHelps.org or 912-355-2289

Director of Marketing and volunteer services for Hospice Savannah, Beth Logan answered questions for this series.

How long have you been in business?

Since 1979.

How many employees do you have?

140 full and part-time employees and 55 PRN employees

How would you describe your business?

Our mission keeps us focused on providing our community the best services and resources on living with a life-limiting illness, dying, death, grief and loss throughout Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, Liberty and Long counties. However, with community support and the work of our foundation, we are much more than hospice.

We provide grief support to anyone in need through our Full Circle Grief and Loss Center; offer hospital, home-based and clinic-based palliative care through the Steward Center for Palliative Care; and serve any unpaid and untrained family caregiver in our community with education and support through our Edel Caregiver Institute.

How has your business changed over the years?

Since 2000, there has been an influx of conglomerate, corporate hospices. Many of them come into our community and hire a doctor with a large medical practice with a sizeable percentage of hospice-eligible patients as their medical director. He or she will often directly refer patients to that hospice instead of offering them freedom of choice; frequently families feel they are with Hospice Savannah and realize only later that they are not. The public often does not know there are differences in the quality and scope of care and that all hospices are not the same.

The other big change is that hospices continuously have to justify the need for end-of-life care to the government and face intense scrutiny from Medicare.

What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?

Our biggest challenge is having families wait until the last minute to access our help. Too often, patients and doctors hold out hope for one more surgery or one more treatment and are not realistic about the prognosis of the terminal disease. It has been clinically shown that utilizing hospice and palliative care actually extends both the quality and the length of life, yet we regularly have patients die in the ambulance en route from the hospital or very shortly after their arrival to their own home or Hospice House. Families are being robbed of the opportunity to have the meaningful conversations needed to finish up the business of living – saying, “I love you,” “I’m sorry” and so on.

We struggle to overcome our society’s aversion to death, but we try to have patients with serious or chronic illness access help earlier through the Steward Center for Palliative Care, and we try to provide help and support to the loved ones looking after them through our Caregiver Institute.

What aspect of the business are you most proud of?

The fact that we are the only Joint Commission-accredited hospice in our community speaks to our focus on quality outcomes and focus on ethical business practices.

We are also extremely proud to be the only hospice to have a Hospice House where our patients can come to have difficult symptoms treated or where they can choose to pay to live as a resident. Both of these aspects of our business would not be possible without the excellent and compassionate care provided by our staff and volunteers.

Stalwart is defined as “marked by outstanding strength and vigor; loyal, hardworking and reliable.” What is it about your business that makes it a Savannah stalwart?

Hospice Savannah is fortunate to have an outstanding, engaged Board of Directors and senior leadership who keep the organization fiscally, ethically and clinically sound. They recognize the industry challenges mentioned above and have created a full continuum of care.

Starting from initial diagnosis of a serious illness, patients can be treated by the Steward Center for Palliative Care, and patients’ caregivers can be helped by the Edel Caregiver Institute. No other hospice offers these services and, again, no other hospice has done the work to earn a Gold Seal of Approval® from the Joint Commission.

What do you hope for the future of your business?

We have been in our community for almost 40 years. We want to be here for this community for 40 more. We hope people will call for help sooner, rather than later.

With our continuum-of-care, we can help them from time of diagnosis of a serious or chronic illness and want them to make health care decisions out of knowledge – not out of fear.

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