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Staff and volunteers at Los Alamos Visiting Nurses are taking advantage of November, National Hospice Month, to educate the community about hospice. Hospice, said executive director of Visiting Nurses Sarah Rochester, is more of a philosophy than a place and its about caring and sharing. Additionally, she said, it is more about living than dying. Hospice, Rochester said, promotes living to the last moment of your life and Visiting Nurses personnel will spread this message throughout the community during this month. Los Alamos Visiting Nurses has been operating for 34 years. It is a state licensed, federally certified nonprofit and it is a United Way agency. Thirteen volunteers work for the Visiting Nurses and last year, they served more than 50 patients. Additionally, Rochester said equally as many terminally ill patients who didn’t use hospice were served. div>Generally, she said, about 15 patients are served at a time at hospice and their care can last a few days to months or even years. Services available through Los Alamos Visiting Nurses include administrating medications, dressing changes, assessment and teaching to both patient and family, by registered nurses. Physical therapists evaluate the patient’s needs and provide exercises and treatments to relieve pain and restore use of muscle and limbs. They will also instruct patients and their families in the use of mechanical equipment and devices to aid rehabilitation. Occupational therapists offer therapeutic training to help increase the patient’s ability to function independently in performing daily tasks. Patients are taught to develop methods for taking care of themselves. Speech therapy, social services and home health aid is also provided along with bereavement services for family and friends. Rochester said hospice also hosts annual memorial services; they invite anyone in the community to participate. Hospice offers benefits not found in a hospital room. Rochester said the greatest amount of medical dollars is spent on care when a patient is about to die. This will not improve the patient’s health and it will not make them comfortable, she said. Hospice, Rochester said, is for families and patients who do not want any more intervention or machines. “They just want to be at home with the folks they love,” she said.“Hospice,” Rochester said, “is about caring for people ee where they want with the people they love at the end of their lives.” She continued, “Generally, when (a patient) is admitted to hospice we have a chance to teach families ways to easily treat the patient.” Rochester said hospice has access to equipment and support services. “We can go around the clock in times of a crisis,” she said. Rochester said she is pleased with the Visiting Nurses’ ability to provide this type of care to the community. “I think I’m proud of the fact that we give outstanding care,” she said. She added that hospice staff is trained in end-of-life nursing and some staff members are hospice and palliative care certified. To support this agency, Visiting Nurses hosts “Daffodils for Hospice,” which 100 percent of daffodil sales go toward hospice care.For the future, Rochester said they hope to have hospice house, a place for family members to go to when they need a break or place to turn to when no one is home. “We are working diligently on that,” she said.