After less than three years of business in Salem, Legacy Hospice of North Arkansas, located on the court square, has established itself as one of the most beneficial and comforting services offered to families struggling to help a terminally ill loved one.
According to regional patient care coordinator Laurie Semen, Legacy Hospice's goal is to help meet patients' physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs as well as the needs of their families. "We basically just want to help improve the quality of life of that patient. We're there to assist their loved ones and comfort the family as a whole," Semen said.
Semen should know. She became involved with Legacy Hospice through her own family's struggle.
Semen said she knew working with Hospice was something special and something she wanted to do after watching Hospice staff help her family care for her terminally ill mother. "When I was going through that, the Hospice people were so helpful," she said. "It was such a relief to have someone there who was a skilled professional and genuinely cared."
And Semen uses this personal experience to help guide the staff at Legacy Hospice. "We strive to keep really open lines of communication. We stay in contact with the patient's primary physician. We are there to help with whatever we can," she said. "We're proud of our dedication."
Semen said though Hospice is a program designed to assist terminally ill individuals, the staff is not strictly available to prepare patients for death. "People often wait too long (before becoming a Hospice patient). You do not have to be on death's door," she said. "We are there to help and encourage patients to live their lives to the fullest. We've had plenty of patients get better -- plenty, even when they thought it wasn't possible."
Though Legacy Hospice's main office is in Salem, they have three satellite offices that work in conjunction with each other throughout north Arkansas -- Walnut Ridge, Harrison and Batesville.
Legacy Hospice offers patients 24-hour on call nursing services, assistance with therapies prescribed by physicians, pastoral care, bereavement care, payment for all necessary medicines and medical supplies and a host of volunteers who care.
"That's one of our big things," Semen said of the company's volunteers. "We have some of the best (volunteers) who are so giving. But there are always more needed."
Because of their line of work, working with Hospice care can be an emotional business.
Semen said the staff often gets attached to patients and their families after sharing in their struggles, but despite this, "hospice work is a blessing," she said.
"Not everyone can do this. (The staff and volunteers) have to be very dedicated; the work's time consuming," Semen said. "But at the same time, you see what a relief you can provide ... You see patients be at peace with their lives ... knowing you were a part of that -- it's very rewarding."
Those needing services provided by Legacy Hospice or those interested in helping with the the company's volunteer program can call 800-895-6196 toll free or 895-2651 locally.