By Steve Yablonski
Nursing shortage forces county hospice to shutdown
A nursing shortage has forced Oswego County Hospice to discontinue operation. The county program ceased as of Nov. 1.
However, the Friends of Oswego County Hospice, a nonprofit that maintains the county hospice program, is scrambling to support hospice patients — with new partners.
“We are not closing, in spite of what may happen to the county program,” Elena Twiss, executive director, FOCH, said. “At the end of [October] it will be technically closed. But we will still have bereavement cases open. So they will be taking care of their patients or families, I want to say, until December.”
FOCH is separate from county government.
“We are still up and running. We have gone through some changes just because it was always our mission to support the Oswego County hospice program. With them closing, of course, the need for hospice doesn’t go away. So Hospice of CNY in the Finger Lakes will be coming in to serve our patients. Also helping is Hospice of Jefferson County, which will take patients on a case by case basis,” she said.
“I think there will be another hospice agency coming in later as well for the east side of our county.”
It’s going to take a team effort to make sure everyone is still covered and receive the care that they need, Twiss added.
The Friends of Oswego County Hospice is dedicated to helping enhance the time that Oswego County patients and their families have together by providing financial assistance and non-medical support, she emphasized.
“We, as a separate, independent, nonprofit organization, will continue to operate and assist patients in Oswego County through whatever organizations are providing services,” she said.
“What we’re going to do is continue on with what we have been doing — but just do it alongside these other agencies,” she explained. “We have been meeting with them and coordinating on kind of where we can fit in with what they are doing.”
What FOCH has always done is provide, the non-medical aspect of things. So if a patient or a family needs some extra support, maybe it’s a specific personal care item or whatever, they have helped.
Twiss wasn’t sure of the exact number of patients left in Oswego County at the end of October. “But I think whoever is left will switch over to one of the other hospice agencies,” she added.
“We’re there to, I guess you could say, provide extra comforting type items. Our mission may be modified, but our goal is still the same: to support and assist hospice patients in our county,” she said.
“It’s a very new thing. We are still ironing out all of the details on how we will be able to fit in.”
For additional information on FOCH, visit www.friendsofhospice.org, or call 315-343-5223.