By Bob Coon, President and CEO of the Lutheran Homes Foundation
While a huge portion of the ministry of Lutheran Homes of South Carolina takes place in our five retirement communities, through the years other ministries have evolved as a natural extension of our ministry with older adults. One of those ministries is Lutheran Hospice, which provides compassionate end of life care for patients and their family members.
Lutheran Hospice began in 1995 on the campus of Lowman Home, now known as the Heritage at Lowman. Lutheran Hospice expanded to the Upstate in 1996 and to the Lowcountry in 1997. Today this ministry is carried out by an interdisciplinary team that includes medical directors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains and volunteers.
Although there are a number of other hospice providers in every community, the care provided by Lutheran Hospice is different from the care provided by for profit hospices. As a nonprofit, faith based ministry, the primary focus of Lutheran Hospice is patient care rather than making a profit. That focus is illustrated by two Lutheran Hospice programs funded by the Lutheran Homes of South Carolina Foundation.
The first program is Subsidized Care, which pays for hospice care for patients whose care is not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. This program also pays for basic needs like food and utilities for low income patients who cannot afford those costs.
The second program is Gifts of Grace, which funds last wishes for patients and their family members. Some of the last wishes that have been funded include the purchase of an airline ticket so a family member could come home for one last visit, a wedding anniversary celebration for a couple whose medical expenses made it impossible for them to fund a last celebration, and a last RV camping trip for a veteran who could no longer take an unaccompanied trip.
These programs combined with the focus on patient care are what make the ministry of Lutheran Hospice different.
Originally printed in the May-June 2016 edition of the South Carolina Lutheran. Subscribe today for only $10 for six issues a year by calling the office at 803-765-0590.