Hospice launches palliative care fellowship
Paul Bushong has personal reasons for supporting hospice care organizations.
“I’m really a little selfish. I’m planning on taking advantage of it before too long. I’ll be 91 next month,” Bushong told the first class of the first Paul Bushong Palliative Care Fellowship.
The new program is run by HomeCare and Hospice of the Valley, which provides home healthcare for severely ill and near-death patients.
Currently, the program is only open to current HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley staff, but by next year, executive director Sylvia Allais hopes to expand the training to others.
The first 25 fellows “will go through certifications, and become the preceptors, I hope, for future fellowships,” Allais said.
“I hope to invite students, nurses, and others from different disciplines to come join us in a future fellowship.”
Bushong is the sole sponsor and benefactor of the organization, providing scholarships for nurses, nursing assistants, social workers and chaplains. Recipients to take part in a year-long training that culminates in a test and certification from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.
Palliative care focuses on comfort and quality of life, using active management of pain and other symptoms, as well as addressing psychological, social and spiritual issues often experienced with serious illness and at the end of life.
Allais also wants the fellowship to pave the way for a permanent, physical hospice to serve the Roaring Fork Valley.
“We want to build a hospice house in our community, and there has been a lot of talk about that,” Allais said.
Hospice of the Valley was part of a proposed development across the river from West Bank, but that proposal was denied.
“The fellowship is building a foundation to have the right skills and knowledge to support our community, and support a home like that,” Allais said.
With Garfield County’s elderly population expected to grow in the next decade, hospice and palliative options are critical, Allais said.
“We know that the aging population is going to triple by 2030,” Allais said.
“People want to be at home, and how do we keep them at home? By providing them with comprehensive support, regardless of their disease progression,” Allais said.
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