The discussion of death in America, and in modern society as a whole, is very scarce, making the topic of end-of-life care a sensitive one. However, there are healthcare services available, to try and make this delicate process as smooth as possible for both the patient and their family. Despite having limited access to other forms of care, Fulton County does have a few great end-of-life care facilities available to members of the community. A few examples are Mountain Valley Hospice and Nancy Dowd Hospice Home, which are both not-for-profit organizations governed by a Board of Directors and Foundation Board. They also contain Pineview Commons, an assisted living facility. Lastly, they have a nursing home associated with the only hospital in the county- Nathan Littauer Hospital Nursing Home. Unfortunately, however, there are not yet any comfort home options in Fulton County. Many of the facilities take in patients that generally don’t have access to healthcare at home, and some patients become better because they are in a better environment than where they used to live, and both physically and mentally became better.
Mountain Valley Hospice
Mountain Valley Hospice is a hospice home geared towards helping patients achieve their personal goals in terms of end-of-life care, providing services that are available in the home, nursing home, hospital, and also the Nancy Dowd Hospice Home. MVH focuses on caring for individuals with life-limiting illnesses and/or combined complicated health issues, who have a prognosis of six months or less, and have stopped pursuing aggressive, curative treatments and therapies. For those who meet the criteria, social workers can work with insurance in order to cover the cost of care. Statistically, those who choose MVH tend to have a better quality of life and live longer respectively to those who do not pursue this type of care. The reason why this happens is that patients generally have access to healthcare they normally won’t be able to get at home, and also the environment itself helps them mentally to become healthier. Staff members of MVH include registered nurses, medical directors, and chaplains. In addition, grief support services and counseling sessions are offered free of charge, regardless of whether or not someone has a loved one currently at MVH. One unique aspect of MVH is that patients have the option to opt-out from this Hospice if their quality of life is improved; patients can choose to self-discharge if they have had a change in mind and want to continue pursuing curative treatments.
Nancy Dowd Hospice Home
A subprogram from Mountain Valley Hospice, this home was privately founded in 2005 by citizens of the community Located in Gloversville, NY, the home has eight private patient rooms, with a 24-hour staffed nursing station to help assist residents with whatever they might need, at any time point. Like most hospice homes, Nancy Dowd does not offer patients curative treatments, instead, focusing on symptom management and making patients as comfortable as possible. Although this home can accommodate patients with many different types of terminal illnesses, it is not equipped to offer the intensive one-on-one observation necessary in caring for patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Due to its small capacity, the cost of living in the home comes out to about $300 per night out of pocket, however, there are social workers available to help with insurance coverage and payment options.
Pineview Commons is a residential, assisted living facility located in Johnstown, NY. The facility offers 24-hour non-medical care to senior residents only, covered transportation costs, and assistance with daily living. Some of the other services include mental wellness programs, meal preparation, and more; additionally, Pineview hosts recreational events and activities that residents can participate in. Unlike other end-of-life care facilities, monthly costs vary depending on the type of room a patient resides in. It is important to note that these monthly rates are higher than the average of other assisted living facilities in New York state.
Nathan Littauer Hospital Nursing Home
Run by the hospital, this nursing home offers both short-term and long-term health care, as well as rehabilitation services. The home can house up to 84 men and women who need individualized care and nursing services. Because this nursing home is affiliated with and run by the hospital, those with Medicaid are covered for the services they need. Additionally, there are other financial assistance programs available to help those who do not have Medicaid and cannot afford the facility.
Impact of COVID-19 on End-Of-Life Care
Due to the worldwide pandemic and the high-risk nature of this patient population, many other facilities were seeking help in transferring their patients to the four discussed above. Before the Joan Nicole Prince Home closed for the pandemic, they actually transferred one of their patients to the Nancy Dowd Hospice Home. Despite remaining open, all four of the facilities have either entirely stopped, or heavily restricted visitation for family members and loved ones. For those who do allow visits, the rules in place are extremely strict, geared at protecting vulnerable patients from contracting COVID-19.