Hospice option hits home for Columbus man

A Columbus man dealing with bladder cancer and ongoing pain has been able to receive needed care in his home rather than in a medical facility.

Joe Voelz, 89, has been a patient of Our Hospice of South Central Indiana since December 2013.

Hospice care is normally a six-month benefit, but it can be extended if a doctor determines a disease is progressing as normal, said Suzie Singer, Our Hospice’s manager of marketing and planning.

Our Hospice has assisted some patients for up to three years, said Heather Means, a social worker. Means connects Voelz with community resources, answers insurance questions and helped him get a Life Alert button to wear in case he were to fall when no one else was around.

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Voelz said that he knew about Our Hospice of South Central Indiana from the times he and his wife Phyllis had visited friends at the in-patient facility in Columbus. Also, he said, his son Jim Voelz recommended Our Hospice to provide the care because of his familiarity with the agency through his work as an attorney in legal issues that affect the elderly.

A home health aid, Lori Driver, visits Joe Voelz five times a week and stays for 60 to 90 minutes. She assists him with everyday living tasks, such as bathing, making the bed and cleaning the house, and helping him with his oxygen machine and inhaler.

Driver’s help means a lot, Joe Voelz said, considering that his wife, who is rehabilitating from a fall, is unable to perform the tasks, and his children and other relatives aren’t available all the time to assist.

Hospice care by a provider can ease the burden of care that would fall on family members to care for their relative, Driver said.

“It’s emotionally draining, so the physical side gets to be overwhelming for the family. We provide that respite to give the family a break, to regroup and handle the rest of the day,” Driver said.

Voelz is among the about 20 patients that nurse Lisa Ondrejack visits each week. Her visits typically last 45 to 75 minutes.

When visiting Voelz, she reviews all of his body systems and pain. For example, Ondrejack checks his heart rate, pulse and oxygen level, listens to his lungs to make sure they are clear and checks his feet for swelling because of a problem with a toe. She will weigh Voelz from time to time to make sure he is eating, and also will make sure he has adequate supplies.

Those who assist him are all nice, Voelz said, and he considers himself lucky to have hospice care locally.

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s the greatest thing we’ve ever run into. We don’t see how we could get along without it,” he said.