Transitions helps residents with life-limiting illnesses


Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 2:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 2:28 p.m.

Do you know someone who has a life-limiting illness and you think he or she may benefit from a program that offers emotional support, education, information and resources, counseling and volunteer assistance with companionship?

Facts

HAVEN TRANSITIONS

What: Haven Transitions, an out-patient program for residents with life-limiting illnesses.
When: Year-round.
Where: Haven Hospice.
Cost: Free.
Information: Call 352-692-5133 or 1-800-330-2858.

Then you may want to consider connecting them with the Haven Transitions program.

Tim Bowen, president of Haven Hospice, said the Haven Transitions program is designed for those with life-limiting illnesses who are not ready for hospice services.

“It’s meant to provide a safety net,” Bowen said. “It helps people make sure they don’t fall through the cracks.”

Hanan Bilal, Transitions specialist/social worker at Haven Hospice, said participation in the program does not require a physician’s order. The program is available to residents with life-limiting illnesses, such as congestive heart disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, dementia, cancer, and any other chronic condition where the patient is not going to get better. She said terminally ill patients and their caregivers also can benefit from the program.

The program provides case management, regular and routine contact, education, information, resources, volunteer assistance with companionship, telephone interviews and assessment to connect them with resources and other assistance.

Gainsville resident Gerald Silcox, a 65-year-old with congestive heart disease, said Haven Transitions has been a lifesaver. “I live alone and I don’t have anyone,” Silcox said. “I don’t know what would happen to me if I didn’t have this program.”

Silcox said a Haven Transitions volunteer visits him for two to three hours each week and takes him to the grocery store, out to dinner, or just to sit and talk. Silcox said once a week, Bilal calls him to see how he is doing and to see if there is something he needs. “That call once a week makes me feel good,” Silcox said. “They’re the only ones that help me.”

Silcox said he also can call Bilal and discuss concerns he may have. “I can call Hanan and talk about anything I want,” Silcox said.

Gainesville resident Eunice Johnson, 70, has cancer, heart issues, lives alone and has never been married. Johnson has siblings, but she is enrolled in Haven Transitions because she doesn’t want to be a burden to her siblings.

Johnson said she is able to take care of her daily needs, but she relies on Haven Transitions for emotional support, free counseling, information, access to community resources and encouragement.

“The most important thing is that I have a caring compassionate person who calls me once a week and keeps track of my medical condition,” Johnson said. “I can call and they listen. It’s comforting and reassuring, and just to talk to someone you get a different perspective.”

“Hanan is my touch stone and my point of contact,” Johnson said. “Looking ahead, when my health deteriorates and I need hospice, it takes the pressure away because I’m already in the pipeline and my brothers and sisters won’t have the pressure because I’ve already put myself there.”

Johnson said Haven Transitions is a wonderful program.

“I like it because I get counseling for free without having to leave my home,” Johnson said. “It (program) provides a lot of support. For people who are alone, connecting with resources is very valuable.”

Bilal said every patient enrolled in Haven Transitions is different and the services offered depend on the needs of the patient. The program also provides support for caregivers and patients are assessed case by case.

Arizona Haines is the primary caregiver for Dora Haines, her 87-year-old mother-in-law who needs a lot of support, but is not ready for hospice.

Arizona Haines said Haven Transitions provides her with lots of information, resources and literature and other assistance.

“They call me at least monthly to see if she (Dora Haines) needs services,” Arizona Haines said. “If something comes up, I can call them and they follow up. I’m really glad they’re there. I think it’s a good program.”

Bilal said contacts are private and confidential.

“They (patients) can talk about their health and emotional concerns with just a phone call,” Bilal said. “And it’s confidential and private.”

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