Death and Dying
3:27 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Hospice's Final Hours Program Ensures No Patient Dies Alone

Sometimes, despite the best efforts of doctors and the determination of a patient, there's just nothing more to be done to fight against a terminal illness. As we heard yesterday on our death and dying in the 21st century series, palliative care can then offer medical, emotional and even spiritual support as treatment to cure a life-threatening illness transitions into quality-of-life management.

Volunteers at Horizon Hospice and Home Care offer comfort to patients and families in the final hours of life.
Volunteers at Horizon Hospice and Home Care offer comfort to patients and families in the final hours of life.
Credit Photo by CORBIS

This is when some patients choose to go to into hospice care, one aspect of palliative care, to help ease the journey of dying. The non-profit Horizon Home Care and Hospice is one of the state's largest full-service providers with in-home care and an inpatient unit located in Mequon.

Katy Corey is the manager of volunteer services there. She helps direct more than 150 volunteers serving in 14 unique capacities - including providing companionship in a patient's home, offering respite for caregivers, serving in the inpatient unit, arranging flowers for patients' rooms, and even assisting nurses in repositioning patients.

But there's one unique opportunity that only a select 20 volunteers fulfill: the Final Hours program. In this role, volunteers are present with patients while they are actively dying. While this can be an unsettling experience for some people, Corey says these highly trained volunteers consider it a privilege to be with a patient at the end of life. She tells Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci more about the Final Hours program, but first talks a little bit about the mission of hospice care in general.

Horizon has offices in Milwaukee, Hartford and Mequon. Horizon's Katy Corey talks about convincing others about the rewarding work of hospice care.