By Adam Raider
In addition to the scope of services it provides in home settings, Masonicare Home Health & Hospice also provides hospice care to patients in over 150 contracted hospitals and skilled nursing facilities around the state. This reflects a growing trend in medicine of healthcare agencies sharing resources to provide patients with the care they need, no matter they live.
“We had wanted to develop a relationship with Masonicare as far back as the late 1990s,” explained Mary Filloramo, administrator of Apple Rehab in Colchester, a 60-bed facility offering short-term and long-term rehabilitation services as well as a dementia care unit. “But it wasn’t possible until Masonicare opened its hospice branch in the Norwich area. Up to that point, we had tried to take care of our very ill patients as best we could but we did not have a hospice program. Once Masonicare came, it was a whole different ballgame.”
Masonicare Hospice offers comprehensive services for helping patients and their families get the most out of their limited time together. Taking a holistic approach and adept at helping families cope with the many issues that arise at the end of life, the Masonicare Hospice inter-disciplinary team works to address the emotional and physical needs of the entire family. They counsel the patient, caregivers, and family on important decisions; chief among them, how best to manage pain.
“When someone is in pain and they’re in their last breath,” Filloramo said, “it’s not an easy thing for a nurse to know that the next injection they administer to that patient could be the last. I think that was the biggest hurdle we faced. What Masonicare’s hospice team taught us was how to make those patients as comfortable as possible before they pass into the next world. No one should have to suffer, and we don’t want anyone here to suffer. The partnership with Masonicare has worked so beautifully for us and, more importantly, for our patients and their families.”
Masonicare’s Sandra Dalton is the hospice case manager at Apple Rehab. She is joined by Massage Therapist Diane Cook, Home Health Aide Lori Fresquez, Expressive Arts Therapist Sandra Gold, and Spiritual Care Coordinator David Johnson. Together, they give Apple Rehab’s hospice patients the one-on-one attention that all of the facility’s caregivers try to provide but aren’t always able to because of time constraints.
Dalton feels that she and her team have so seamlessly integrated themselves into Apple Rehab’s culture that it’s sometimes easy to forget that they’re actually Masonicare employees.
“It took time to get to know everyone,” she said, “but now, when I get here, it feels like home. I can relax and know that if we run into any problems, we’ll address them together as a team with the Apple Rehab staff. We can share, we can talk. This is a perfect example of agency-to-agency cooperation. I’ve never encountered a relationship like this in my whole career. The people here are kind of like family to me now.”
Dalton, who jokes that she’s still waiting to be named an “honorary Apple Rehab employee,” has worked in long-term care facilities since 1965, first as a nurse and then as an assistant director. She entered the field of hospice care six and a half years ago because she craved the one-on-one interaction that it requires of the caregiver.
“It was time for a change,” she said. “I find this to be more rewarding.”
An added benefit notincluded in Apple Rehab’s contract with Masonicare: Dalton has been known to stop by on Saturdays to entertain the residents as part of The Dalton James Trio, a soft rock group featuring Sandy’s son, Rick Dalton, on guitar and vocalist Dan James. Sandy plays piano.
“We don’t play the old standards,” Dalton said. “We play songs like ‘Mustang Sally,’ but the residents love it.”