Living your final days with dignity.
No one wants to think about end-of-life issues. But when a friend or family member is terminally ill, hospice can make the process easier by helping the patient live their final days with dignity. That’s the goal of Olympia Hospice Care, Inc. in Sherman Oaks, which serves patients and families throughout Los Angeles County.
Olympia Hospice Care’s full range of services for patients with a terminal condition include visits from doctors, nurses and home health aides; medical procedures such as mobile X-rays, ultrasounds, bloodwork and urinalysis; physical therapy; 24-hour pharmacy services; and transportation to/from hospital. But their offerings extend beyond the medical, in an effort to treat the whole person and his or her family. Patients are also provided pet and music therapy and spiritual services, while their families receive emotional support throughout this difficult process.
“We focus on respecting the patient’s rights and wishes,” says administrator Ana Safarian. One way the organization does that is by supporting the Medical Aid in Dying Act (MAID), which was legalized in California in June 2016. This act allows Olympia Hospice Care’s physicians to prescribe end-of-life medication to an eligible, terminally ill adult who can choose to self-administer the drug.
“Participating in MAID feels very natural for me,” shares Olympia Hospice Care’s medical director, Cary Nelson, MD. “I believe in the human spirit and the gift of life, but when disease strikes and infirmity and pain set in, the quality of life can be diminished too much. Each minute of each day is spent trying to figure out how to decrease the pain and end the suffering—for just five minutes, or an hour. Day after day, the patient goes through the same routine—until the compassionate, thoughtful voters in California enacted the ‘death with dignity law’ in 2016.”
“Our staff is sincere in their approach and dedicated to providing exemplary patient care and compassion in their service—making the hospice experience as pleasant as possible.”
The doctor also encourages patients to get the most out of the time they do have on this earth. “I try to promote ‘living’ to my hospice patients while they are alive and able to do so. For example, I suggest to the housebound or chairbound patient to go outside, sit under the sun and warm their bones. Or they can make a smoothie out of their Boost or Ensure supplements for better nutrition and taste!”
Dr. Nelson joined the Olympia Hospice Care team in 2015. He received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and attended medical school in Guadalajara and at New York Medical College. Today he has a diverse practice, ranging from aesthetics to family medicine to hospice. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Medicine and has owned and operated The Aesthetic Center and Medical Wellness in Torrance since 2014.
The experienced professionals at Olympia Hospice Care strive to ensure that your loved one is receiving personalized care, staying comfortable and maintaining their quality of life as much as possible. Under the guidance of physicians such as Dr. Nelson, hospice staff assist patients with their spiritual, physical and emotional needs—wherever the patients reside. Hospice services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Doctors and nurses are on call after hours and over the weekend.
Olympia Hospice Care makes an effort to alleviate stress for the family when it comes to choosing hospice care for a loved one. “We understand there are a lot of questions and concerns,” says Ana. “We can schedule a private consultation with family members to answer any questions or concerns regarding hospice care.” And she adds that hospice care is a 100% benefit covered under Medicare Part A.
“Our staff is sincere in their approach and dedicated to providing exemplary patient care and compassion in their service—making the hospice experience as pleasant as possible,” says Dr. Nelson. “I like to sit and talk with patients, holding their hand or offering them a sip of water. It’s the little things that most people forget doctors are capable of, like compassion, empathy and sympathy.”