Filling a previously vacant medical facility at 9 Medical Drive in Cartersville, across Ga. Highway 20 from Cartersville Medical Center, Kathy Cares opened their first inpatient hospice home in April with hopes to expand into other communities with a similar need.
"This is the only inpatient hospice facility between Chattanooga and Austell. So for those in north Georgia, if an in-house facility is what they really needed, they had to travel at least 30 minutes or more to get there. It was something that was a real need for Bartow and the surrounding areas," said Kathy Cares Community Relations Representative Redonna Branton. "Usually, with inpatient hospice, the normal time length is up to three weeks. After three weeks, if they're still with us, we re-evaluate the patient and, if they're getting better, we can follow them home if they're able to go home or wherever it is they need to go.
"Normally though, the way inpatient is set up, this is end-of-life care and we're just trying to make it as comfortable as possible."
From furniture and decor to staffing measures, Kathy Cares employs a variety of tactics to make families and patients more comfortable during a difficult situation. Kathy Cares looks more like a hotel than a hospice facility upon first glance. After further inspection, the medical necessities are evident but a plush lobby and individually decorated rooms separate the facility from typical stereotypes. Even food preparation is altered to better accommodate patient preferences with help from a chef heading the nutrition team who also provides fresh-baked cookies for facility common areas twice a day.
"It's a stressful time for families, people are scared, they're afraid of the unknown. So if we can add these little extra touches, whether it be fresh-baked cookies, a nicely decorated room, a bird feeder outside the window -- if that offers them a little peace and comfort, then that's what we want to do. We're here for the patient and the family," Branton said. "We have a chef on staff. You've probably seen at a lot of places like a hospital or nursing home, it's roast beef, fish or chicken nuggets -- which do you want? If the patient in room two wants chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese, that's what we fix. If the patient in room five wants a hamburger or a hotdog, that's what we'll fix. Now, most folks, when they get to us, don't want a whole lot or can't eat very much but we will accommodate as necessary."
Kathy Cares is a 14-bed facility with each room decorated in a different theme. Decor ranges from red, white and blue in a patriotic room to designs suited for sports fans, vintage car enthusiasts and various other themes. If available, patients and family can choose a room that best suits their personality.
On staff are about 10 registered nurses and about 15 certified nursing assistants available around the clock, in addition to physical therapists, occupational therapists and a full-time chaplain.
In addition to inpatient hospice care, Kathy Cares provides traditional in-home hospice care and respite care in appropriate cases to aid caregivers.
"With the way things are today, people are taking care of parents, grandparents, kids and grandkids. You're running multiple generations and people have to work," Branton said. "We do provide respite care. If you're providing for a loved one 24/7 and you're wanting to go to a wedding or on vacation or just want to sit home and not want to worry about doing anything for anybody, we do offer respite service that the family member can bring their loved one in and we'll look after them for a few days."
Many patients come to Kathy Cares for pain control as well. When pain control measures become too much for at-home care, inpatient hospice may be the next step. Branton suggests anyone with questions call to make a care-plan meeting to discuss options, as a nonprofit inpatient hospice facility, Kathy Cares follows patient guidelines and restrictions for admissions.
For more information, call 404-815-9333 or visit www.kathycareshospice.com.