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Southwest Georgia Hospice Care – Thomasville, GA

Lorie Hodges Garrett – physician liaison and referral source liaison for Hospice of Southwest

Areas Served

Hospice of Southwest Georgia is affiliated with Archbold and serves all of Southwest Georgia. We serve 12 counties and go all the way to the Florida line. We start in Brooks County, cover Thomas County, where we have an office, Grady County, Decatur County, where we also have an office, and Seminole County. As an established provider of Southwest Georgia hospice care, we have been in these communities for over 25 years and we were the first hospice in the area.

We also serve Colquitt County, Moultrie, Mitchell, Baker, Miller, and Early. So we go all the way up to the Alabama line. We also have a service area for Clay and Calhoun, so we go all the way up to Fort Gaines.

Our Typical Client

A typical client for us is more than just the client. It’s a patient and their significant others in their life. Our typical client has probably just received information from their health care provider that they are nearing the end of life. Sometimes there’s not the intervention of a health care provider. Sometimes that’s just something that they’ve come to know themselves, and either their health care provider can call us or the person themselves or their family can call us. And our typical client and their significant others are typically in lots of different stages of acceptance of that news that they’re nearing end of life.

Often our typical client is closer to the end of life than we would like because we would like our team to be able to get in there, into the situation, and provide quality to the time that they have left and also to provide support and education to prepare that family for end of life. And then I would also say that we’ve found with our patients that there’s really no typical. People in the end of life stage are as diverse as people in every other stage of life. And so we find that each one has different goals and expectations, and we try to meet those and help the patient with those.

Support Services for Families

Our team includes excellent physicians who are medical directors who work for us, incredibly dedicated registered nurses with lots and lots of years of experience. These are incredible seasoned nurses who are sort of crazy passionate about what they do and the services that they provide. If you could see our team, you would see certified hospice aides who are probably some of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. They provide those personal care support services that give people dignity and give much needed relief to those caregivers. Sometimes that is a huge need for a person who’s been taking care of someone who’s been very ill.

You would see very well-educated and patient social workers who can counsel families through difficult situations and who can also help with connecting the family with community resources that are available in our area. You would see compassionate chaplains who help families with additional spiritual support.

Right now, there are probably in excess of a hundred volunteers who are getting ready to volunteer for our Camp Heal, which is a day camp that we have in two locations in Thomasville and Bainbridge for children who have lost a loved one or trying to deal with grief in the special way that children do. We have a bereavement coordinator who stays in touch with our families for a year after the death of a loved one.

We probably have somewhere between 80 and 100 volunteers who are our neighbors. They are selfless people who give of their time to run to the grocery store, to bring their dogs to provide pet therapy for patients. We also deliver fresh cut flowers to our patients every week.

So we bring a whole team of experts on end of life care. Hospice also covers the medical equipment related to a diagnosis. It’s provided for you. The medicine is actually provided as well. And hospice also covers respite where the hospice team needs to take care of a loved one while the family has some other commitments or just needs a break.

We also we offer continuous care in a crisis like a medical emergency where we need to stay around the clock until we get symptoms under control. Then we can put patients in the hospital when it’s absolutely necessary.

Recently we had a family on service that revoked hospice to seek some further treatment in another state. When they came home, they were no longer under hospice care. They were really in crisis. And so at 5:00 in the afternoon, our clinical manager left the office, got the paperwork processed, stayed with the family all night until all of the symptoms were managed and under control, and the crisis had passed. And that’s what we do every day. Our team goes above and beyond every day.

Why Choose Us?

I would say what we do better than our competitors would be first and foremost that we know our clients. We know them better than our competition because our nurses and our whole staff lives in our community and probably knew our patients before they become our patients. So I think we do an excellent job of talking to our clients and finding out what their goals and expectations are and of meeting those.

I think one thing that really separates us as well is that we do offer a host of services through our volunteers that are above and beyond the scope of hospice. We have the flower deliveries every week, the volunteers who are veterans who sit with veteran patients, the dog therapy that we offer, all of those things that are above and beyond what’s required.

Dog Therapy

Our dog therapy is a wonderful program. It started a couple of years ago. We have a wonderful trainer, and she and I were talking and realizing that we live in an area where people have tremendous family pets and that no one was doing dog therapy in this area. So we started a program. Our dogs are certified through Therapy Dog International.

I first heard about pet therapy through a friend who was admitted into an area hospital for open heart surgery, and protocol in that hospital was a couple of hours of pet therapy prior to surgery. And I started looking into that, and it’s medically documented that interaction with a pet can reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and reduce depression.

Sometimes you walk into homes or facilities where things are quiet or somber, and when you walk in with a pet, suddenly the mood shifts, and everyone just feels better.

The dogs are trained and tested in everything that’s required to become a therapy dog, which is about a six-month process that people invest a pretty good bit of their own time to make that happen. And our volunteers are anywhere from 13 years old and up. Certainly wherever our patient is, our patients all have the option of requesting a pet therapy team that’s assigned to them, and they have their very own therapy dog.

We also are active in about 12 different facilities throughout our service area, assisted livings, skilled nursing facilities, oncology. We do pet therapy in Northside. This is a community benefit that we do to give back to maybe a part of the population that isn’t allowed to have pets where they live, and so we’re just there sharing our pets with them.

Our pet therapy program is an amazing program, and it’s gotten a lot of people involved in hospice services who are really just great pet people who have really enjoyed giving back to the community in that way.

Paying for Hospice Care

Medicare part A and Medicaid cover 100% for their beneficiaries. We accept payment through private pay or through private insurances. The important thing about hospice care, and because we’re affiliated with Archbold and because we are nonprofit, no one is ever turned away from hospice because they can’t pay.

Our social workers will help try to find a payment source, but the bottom line is even if there isn’t a payment source, patients receive hospice care.

Misconceptions about Hospice

Statistically, we are behind the rest of the nation in our timeliness of admitting patients who can benefit from hospice into the program. Most people hear hospice and think it means that the patient has a few days or a few weeks to live. They equate hospice with death and dying.

But I think what we consistently hear from our patients is that, “We didn’t understand the breadth of services that you provide. We didn’t understand that your focus is on the quality of life.” Being pain free and not necessarily having to be homebound, being able to accomplish those things that you want to accomplish, and having the best quality of life.

Families and patients don’t always know what all is available, so they don’t ask for help during early stages. Families often tell me they wish they had reached out to a hospice sooner.

Hospice Of Southwest Georgia
114 Mimosa Dr Ste A
Thomasville, GA 31792
(229) 584-5500