Hospice Alliance

A Hospice Alliance certified nursing assistant visits with a patient.

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — With nearly 40 years’ experience, Hospice Alliance combines knowledge and compassion to provide patients and families with cutting-edge care and beautiful end-of-life experiences.

Hospice Alliance, 10220 Prairie Ridge Blvd., in Pleasant Prairie, offers not only hospice and innovative palliative care to individuals and their families, but holistic approaches to patients living in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth and South Milwaukee counties.

A staff of more than 100 individuals, including nurses, social workers and chaplains and others, build their schedules around their patients, making patient needs the number one priority.

Hospice Alliance, which was established in 1981, also has an eight-bed residential care facility attached to the administrative building, which offers assistance when people cannot or chose not to remain in their homes.

Rita Hagen, executive director of Hospice Alliance, said that it is important that the public be educated on hospice and palliative care, as early involvement can lead to better outcomes for the patient and their family.

“The national average for admission to hospice, and amount of days on hospice is less than two weeks,” Hagen said. “If people could get into hospice sooner, it is just so much better for them.”

In addition to addressing hospice and palliative care medical needs, Hospice Alliance also offers aromatherapy, massage therapy, spiritual care and music therapy.

“I look at hospice as hope,” said Kelly Gronli, director of clinical services. “Hope for a good end of life, hope for preparing family, preparing young children, preparing older children, preparing a spouse. It is hope that someone’s end of life, which is inevitable for all of us, will be a beautiful and much better experience.”

Innovative palliative care

Hospice Alliance has offered palliative care for a number of years. Palliative care is for those are suffering from a chronic or life limiting illness, but have not necessarily reached the point of wanting or needing hospice care.

Staff works with the patient, doctor and family to address symptoms that a chronic disease or illness can bring. The goal is to manage symptoms, minimize suffering and keep the patient where they are most comfortable.

Hospice Alliance is also now one of 100 hospices in the country and one of two hospices in Wisconsin to offer the Choices Palliative Care Project, a cutting-edge palliative program.

Nearly two years ago, Hospice Alliance was selected by Medicare to be part of a demonstration project looking at the effects on the public of hospice-like services offered to people eligible for hospice, but not ready.

It covers four diagnosis: cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and HIV-AIDS. Those in the program are given access to care 24 hours a day. They are also able to continue to receive curative treatment, something not typically covered when a person seeks hospice treatment.

“You can still continue treatment, plus get hospice-like care,” Gronli said. “You get many benefits of hospice care while still getting treatment.”

After the two-year period is concluded, Medicare will make recommendations on continuing funding. The goal is to help reduce cost and to provide better care of patients.

“It’s a big deal that we were chosen,” Gronli said. “We are very happy to be a part of something that will probably be the forefront of where care goes in the next five to 10 years.”

Community, volunteerism

Hospice Alliance was founded by volunteers, and community and volunteerism remain a large focus.

More than 100 volunteers from throughout southeastern Wisconsin work with patients, helping sort pictures, write life stories, provide respite care and company, and help patients with their to-do lists.

“The fact that the staff that are caring for our patients’ live and work in the communities we serve, which makes us unique,” Hagen said. “Neighbors caring for neighbors. I think this separates us out from many of the other hospice providers.”

Hospice Alliance also hosts movie screenings featuring movies that focus on the end-of-life, provide education, offer bereavement program and support groups to the public and work with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside to do legacy projects which help families remember loved ones and support groups to the public.

They also participate in the national We Honor Veterans program, which focuses on special projects for veterans, veteran education and other activities, such as pinning ceremonies, to veterans they serve.

“The fact that the staff that are caring for our patients’ live and work in the communities we serve, which makes us unique. Neighbors caring for neighbors. I think this separates us out from many of the other hospice providers.” — Rita Hagen, executive director of Hospice Alliance of Pleasant Prairie

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