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Front row (l-r) Stephanie Litchford, Patricia Harris, Betty Demonbreun; middle: Judy Suter, Santa; back: Michelle Suter, Joe Rushing, Brenda Jicka, Rita Powers and Rita Powers.

"Time is filled with swift transition" are the first words of the old hymn, "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand."  Thirty years ago, Jesse Holman Jones Hospice was formed. The nursing staff provided in-home hospice care for Robertson County and four other adjacent counties.  In 1995, NorthCrest Medical Center opened and that hospice became known as NorthCrest Hospice.

 

These professionals formed a team that cared for hundreds of our terminally ill loved ones and their families.  In 2011, NorthCrest Hospice helped my family with my mother's last two months.  I have good memories of Nights on the Town that brought the community together to raise funds for those under insured. For 25 summers, Camp TAG (Teaching About Grief) has given our  young people an opportunity to process and work through their grief. NorthCrest Hospice served a vital need in our community.

 

Over the last 18 years, some interesting developments were taking place in Alabama.  Three business men made a decision to enter the health care field. They began by purchasing small hospitals, nursing facilities and certificate of needs for hospices. 

 

By caring for people, hiring good people and doing things the right way, Comfort Care Hospice now has grown to 18 hospice branches up and down the state of Alabama.  As Comfort Care grew, the decision was made to enter Tennessee. After negotiations with NorthCrest, Comfort Care purchased NorthCrest Hospice's certificate of need for Middle Tennessee on April 15.

 

Comfort Care Hospice of Middle Tennessee LLC can now serve residents of Robertson, Davidson, Sumner, Montgomery and Cheatham Counties. You can now choose Comfort Care Hospice to assist you and your loved ones with end of life care. While the NorthCrest name has changed, the same hometown caring team remains. 

 

Judy Long Suter is the long term director and social worker. Dr. Jonathan Kroser remains the medical director. Marilyn Worsham serves as the nurse practitioner.  Rita Powers is director of nursing. Julie Grant and Patricia Harris are the same experienced, compassionate nurses.  Stephanie Litchford remains the skilled nursing assistant. Michelle Suter is bereavement and volunteer  coordinator. Betty Demonbreun is the biller and Joe Rushing is the chaplain.

 

Once the papers were signed on April 15, the Comfort Care leadership team from Pelham, Ala. came to Springfield to bring us on board and begin their training process.  Employees were given welcome back packs filled with practical gifts.  Each employee was given a tablet with a computer program called Kan Time.

 

Kan Time allows for all the different disciplines to craft an individualized plan of care for each patient and family. It aides communication between all the disciplines.  Goals and interventions are determined, assessed, revised and completed.  It can be monitored by other sets of eyes at corporate with suggestions for better practices to continually improve patient care and communication.

 

May 1 was the day Comfort Care Hospice went live on the new system in Springfield. Every day, the Comfort Care changes are becoming more natural.  Each week one or more staff members from Comfort Care's corporate staff are in the local office. 

 

Not only does Comfort Care provide salaries and benefits for local employees, they stay in the new Holiday Inn Express and eat in our restaurants. Comfort Care is dedicated to being a committed corporate citizen and involved in our community. You will see our purple Comfort Care shirts often in the weeks to come.

 

Lisa Teel, chief operating officer has been with Comfort for 18 years. This is the second time she has entered an agency and led its transformation to Comfort Care.  Comfort Care's acquisition of Mercy Medical Hospice in Fairhope, Ala. in 2015 was her first.  Lisa makes her home in Fayetteville and travels wherever she is needed.

 

Comfort Care's new Springfield office is undergoing renovation in the 400 building on the NorthCrest Campus. Expected occupancy date is July 1.  As Comfort Care Hospice grows, new staff will be added.  As the number of patients grows in surrounding counties, new offices will be opened. This will allow nurses and other staff to respond quickly to the needs of their patients and families.

 

If you have questions about you or a loved one's eligibility for hospice call, 615-384-9425.  Luke Metcalf 615-604-2150 is the new local marketer. Comfort Care has a state of the art website at www.comfortcarehospice.com where you can even apply for employment online via the website.

 

My fellow teammates often teach our patients and their families how to navigate the changes they are experiencing.  We are getting to practice what we teach on a much smaller scale.  We are seeing how "all things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).  We thank God that we can hold to His unchanging hand, to each other's hands, and the hands of our new co-workers at Comfort Care Hospice as we serve our patients.

 

Joe D. Rushing is a regular contributor to the Connection and Comfort Care Hospice Chaplain.

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