Living and Dying, Converations on the end of life

If you missed the “Senior Lifestyles” special section a few weeks ago, this is an introduction to the End of Life Care Partnership that has been operating here in Addison County for eight years. Our mission is “to create a framework for our organizations to collaborate on our common goal of providing education about dying, death and options for care.”
On the last Monday of each month we will bring topics to light in order to inspire and inform our friends and neighbors about dying and death.
This column will work if we get questions from you, our readers.
We want to hear from you, what is on your mind and heart regarding this challenging issue that each of us will need to address in our lives? Send your questions to [email protected].
We have started with a frequently asked question:
I recently moved to Addison County and attended the “Being Mortal” film and discussion last March. I came away wondering about what my options are for my end of life. How would your organizations help me and my family?
Here is our answer:
All of the organizations in the partnership provide access to options and resources, everything from Advance Care Planning Specialists – who will assist you with the first step of an overall health and wellness plan — to Bereavement Specialists — who will guide you in the grief process after a death has occurred. We often hear that it is overwhelming or confusing because of all the different services and organizations that deliver options at the end of life. But we like to pause and ponder: Aren’t we fortunate to have all these choices in our community, with experts who are attentive to our needs around dying? Addison County is a good place to live, but it is also a good place to die.
The people who write this column and their organization are as follows:
MATT WOLLAM-BERENS – 802-388-4701 / www.portermedical.org
The University of Vermont Health Network’s Porter Hospital and Porter Medical Group (specialty and private practices) can help support you and your family in a number of ways. In most cases your journey begins with your primary care physician (PCP). They can assist you in filling out your “Advance Directives,” a document that captures your medical needs and goals. As someone who is aware of your past medical history and current prognosis, your PCP is uniquely qualified to help you decide what sort of medical interventions you wish (or do not wish) to receive. Also, they are familiar with all the resources listed below and can assist you in choosing which ones best meet your individual needs and goals. Whether it is at our hospital or in your home, Porter is here to serve you.
DR. DIANA BARNARD, Division of Palliative Medicine, University of Vermont Medical Center (Palliative Services available through PMC or ACHHH)  
As a Palliative Care physician specializing in serious or life limiting illness, I provide patient and family centered care that optimizes your quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. I help assure you understand your condition, consider treatment options, complete Advance Care Planning, and develop a care plan which honors your specific values. I help you identify and explore the hopes and worries that you, your loved ones and your care givers may have. I work with an interdisciplinary team and coordinate with other providers caring for you. I can offer expertise in treating a variety of symptoms, including pain, shortness of breath, and emotional stress.
MAUREEN CONRAD – 802-388-7259 / www.achhh.org
Addison County Home Health & Hospice (ACHHH) can assist you and your family by providing palliative and hospice care in your own home. We will design a care plan to meet your unique needs, with the goal of assisting you in living comfortably and safely in your home for as long as possible. Our care is provided by a team of skilled clinicians who have expertise in end of life care and who coordinate with your primary care physician. Also, consultation with a palliative care M.D. or a specialist in your specific disease process may happen. We provide expert management of pain and other symptoms, guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices and emotional and spiritual support for your entire family.
PRISCILLA BAKER and LAURIE BORDEN – 802-388-4111 / www.hospicevs.org
Hospice Volunteer Services (HVS) trains community members to serve as volunteers to help those who are on hospice or in their last days, weeks or months of life. Volunteers might provide a protective presence and respite for family caregivers; companionship and visiting; help with light housekeeping, meal preparation, errands or a project; a calm presence during the dying process (vigil sitting); and musical comfort (from Wellspring singers or volunteers who play instruments). We visit families in their homes, facilities, ARCH rooms – wherever they call “home”. After death, we provide bereavement support to family members grieving the loss of loved ones. We also house a public lending library and resource materials related to dying, death and bereavement.
CONNIE LEACH – 802-388-4001 / www.hphrc.org
Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing (HPRN), located on Porter Medical Center’s campus, includes individualized end-of-life care in the services it provides this region. In concert with ARCH, physicians, and area palliative care/hospice teams, we offer three peaceful bedroom suites and a beautiful garden courtyard for residential hospice care. Our compassionate nurses and Chaplain maintain support and comfort, creating a secure and loving environment. We welcome family and close friends, and offer round-the-clock access, resources and special comforts during this important journey. Porter and ARCH will be collaborating on an exciting project this fall and winter to create even more family-centered spaces for palliative and end-of-life care. 
DAPHNE DIEGO and LAURIE BORDEN – 802-503-8629 / www.addisonrespitecarehome.org
Addison Respite Care Home (ARCH), a board of volunteer community members, created four end-of-life suites at Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing and Porter Hospital because dying at home is not always an option. While many people imagine their last breaths will be taken in their own bed, with loved ones around them, this can’t always happen. Whether the death is a sudden or lingering event, someone who is young or old, with or without a support system, ARCH rooms provide safe, comfortable and person-centered care to the patient and the family. Unique accommodations within the ARCH rooms bring the feeling of home while partnering with a professional environment.
Next public event that the End of Life Care Partnership is sponsoring:
“Being Mortal Project” on Sept. 18, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Bristol Fire Station

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