February 22, 2005 at 9:20 PM CST - Updated July 26 at 7:47 PM
Monitors for Hospice Patients By: Wendy Ray
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO --Something that's been used with infants for years is being used for terminally ill adults. I
t's not only helping them, but also their caregivers. They're your standard baby monitors. Southeast Hospital recently received a grant to put them in the homes of hospice patients. Hospice workers say it makes patients feel safer and it allows caregivers to have more independence.
Sarah Froemsdorf has a lot going on. A nurse practitioner, she stays very busy. Taking care of her father, Homer Gilbert, is also a full time job. Mr. Gilbert is 91 and a familiar face around Cape. He played in the Muny Band for years, but now his health is very poor. Froemsdorf says a monitor gives her a small sense of relief. "Before we had a monitor I couldn't leave the room. He would start yelling and want me to be in there. I think when people approach death, sometimes they are apprehensive and they want to know someone is by them," Froemsdorf says.
Dr. Linda Heitman wrote the grant to get the monitors for Southeast Hospice patients. She says the monitors give patients a way to communicate with their caregivers; something they may not have had before. "We have instances where people have used wooden spoons and beaten them on pots, or they would yell out for their caregiver just hoping to get a response," Heitman says. Heitman adds they are just your standard baby monitors, anyone with a sick loved one at home can go out and buy one. She says these simple monitors can help people in a difficult situation. "The concept of a familiar voice can make a big difference. It's an inexpensive way to keep families together," she says.
The monitors are free to hospice patients and their families. The ones they use are about ninety dollars in stores. Lourdes Hospital also uses monitors for hospice patients.