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What is Hospice and the Hospice House? - Article from the Harrison Daily Times

There is some confusion in the community as to the terms, Hospice, Hospice House and Hospice of the Hills.  End-of-Life care can be provided in the patient’s home by the hospital through their Hospice of the Hills in-home care.  If a terminally ill patient wants care in a home, their only choice in Harrison is the NARMC Hospice of the Hills – Hospice House.


Vince Liest, CEO of NARMC said, “The Hospice House board is a separate 501(c)3 organization. They raise money to grow the facility. The Hospice House sits on land leased from the county.  “The hospital runs it, provides the staff and license. The way it is structure right now, we lose $160,000 a year,” Liest said. “The revenue we receive from caring for the Hospice House patients does not cover the cost of their care by our staff.”


Liest continued, “We’ve always continued that money as a donation to the community to meet a need.” If terminally ill patients sign up with another provider and they need a hospice home, their choices are in Mountain Home, Fayetteville or further away.


Liest said, “One of the things we have not done is make it very clear with the community that NARMC is in partnership with the Hospice of the Hills – Hospice House. The partnership goes back a number of years, and we are very happy with that partnership.” 


Jerry Jackson, one of the board of directors for Hospice of the Hills – Hospice House said, “We are proud of our great relationship with NARMC and are very proud of our staff. We have no intention of ever partnering with anyone else.”


Rhonda Laborde, Hospice House chairman of the board said, “By choosing Hospice of the Hills – Hospice House, they are getting the best care, close to home and will not get a bill. It also helps us provide care for those who don’t have the financial means.”  Laborde continued, “We offer a natural progression for our patients. If they have NARMC In-Home care and need to move to Hospice In-Home Care, they continue with the same nurses, chaplains and staff they are familiar with. Then if they decide they want to go to the Hospice House, it’s a very easy transition.”


The “Twenty is Plenty” fundraising campaign is for dollars to care for the families.  A Bill is never sent to the family members of Hospice patient. They accept the private insurance and Medicare/Medicaid payments. But if an individual doesn’t have those funds available, they still receive quality care.  Laborde added, “The campaign funds don’t go pay the staff or do the landscaping. They are strictly for the patients and their families’ needs. The staff is so passionate about their patients; people have said they are angels. But we are the ones who get the blessings – to be able to serve such great patients.”


Statistics have recently been released that when a patient chooses Hospice care early in the process, they live a higher quality of life and tend to live longer.  “Quality of life is increased,” Laborde said. Every need they have is met, in one place. The staff knows when they need more pain medicine before they even know that.”


Jackson said the Hospice House currently has four beds and is raising funds to expand to eight.  Two of the beds will be offered to family members who want to remain on the premises with their loved one.

So what is hospice?  Liest explained, “Hospice is an intensified level of care so people are comfortable, needs are met, both socially, spiritually, medically and they are comfortable in the last days of their lives.”


Marsha Carter, public relations director said, “if they think they want to go to a hospice house at the end of their life, Hospice of the Hills – Hospice House is their only choice in our area.”


Liest added, “It’s not where people go to die; it’s where they go to get the care they need at this time in their life.” He continued, “There are people who at the end of their lives, want to be at home. Then there are people who, by their actions, don’t want to burden their family with their needs. So they want to go somewhere where they can get those physical needs met, while the family deals with the emotional aspect and not the physical and clinical aspect. It’s a choice humans must make.”