Q&A with Syeda Mamoona Omer: Local hospice helps the ill and families deal with end-of-life issues
Hospice isn’t a place, rather a type of medical care for terminally ill patients
Published in the May 11-25, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Staff Report
Dr. Syeda Mamoona Omer is the CEO of the Gilroy-based Bonita Springs Hospice Care which helps families in the region deal with the process of life coming to an end due to an illness. She is a medical doctor whose father, Syed Ahsan Gilani, died in 2012. During that time, she realized that there was a need for a small family-owned hospice care in the South Valley area and started the business to honor him.
Morgan Hill Life asked Omer about the new hospice business and how it can enhance the quality of a person’s end of life.
What is hospice care and what services does it provide clients?
Hospice is a philosophy of palliative care, which means it focuses on patient comfort and quality of life during an advanced illness. The goal of hospice is to help enhance a patient’s quality of life while managing symptoms and controlling pain. Bonita Springs’ team of professionals includes physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, hospice aides and trained volunteers who are experts in end-of-life care. Our carefully designed plans of care center on our patients, their families and/or caregivers at a most challenging time in their life.
There are some misconceptions about what hospice care does. Is it a place to go or a service provided? And please explain how that works. Hospice is not a place but rather a type of tender, compassionate medical care for patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Most patients are cared for in the comfort of their homes or in a home-like setting such as a nursing home or assisted-living residence. Another common misconception is that hospice is only for the final days of life. A patient is eligible for hospice as long as they have an illness with a prognosis of six months or less if the disease continues its normal course, but there is no absolute time limit — patients may come on and graduate off hospice care.
How is hospice care paid for and what are some plans for payment that Bonita Springs provides?
Hospice care is typically paid for through Medicare, Medi-Cal and most private insurers. Hospice care includes both clinical services, such as pain relief, and support services. Some services may also be available to caregivers and loved ones at no extra cost. If a patient does not have coverage through Medicare, Medi-Cal or a private insurance company, Bonita Springs will work with the patient and their family to ensure needed services can be provided. Bonita Springs’ staff listen to needs and find solutions to concerns, including financial and insurance issues.
What differentiates Bonita Springs from other hospice organizations?
Bonita Springs is located in Gilroy and is staffed by professionals who live in the area, meaning they are only minutes away from our patients. The average response time, particularly after business hours, is much less than other hospice services located north in San Jose or south in Salinas. Unlike large hospice agencies that are numbers driven and measure their employees by the number of patients seen in a day, Bonita Springs is privately owned and extremely devoted to patient care — our patients are treated as extended members of our family.
What is grief support and how does Bonita Springs provide this?
Grief support consists of small groups of people coming together, all of whom have experienced the death of a loved one. It’s an opportunity to talk about their experiences with people who are likely to understand, since they themselves “have been there.” Attendees often describe a grief group as a “safe place” where they can tell their stories in a respectful, confidential setting. Bonita Springs’ groups are facilitated by chaplains and social workers with training and experience in grief counseling. Groups are offered free of charge at the Morgan Hill and Gilroy senior centers, as well as Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy.