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Chautauqua Hospice And Palliative Care Presents To Rotary

From left are John Healy, Rotary president, and Craig Garass-Johnson, Brooke Cusimano and Mike Testa, Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care executive staff members. Submitted photo

The Rotary Club of Jamestown welcomed leaders of the local Hospice organization at their recent meeting.

The speakers included CEO Mike Testa, who joined the organization in July. He joins Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care with more than 20 years of managerial and leadership experience in healthcare, business administration and education. Testa and his family relocated to Chautauqua County from Billings, Mont., where he worked at River Stone Health for more than nine years, the last two serving as vice president. Testa earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Ashford University and an MBA from Fitchburg State University.

Also speaking was Brooke Cusimano, registered nurse and clinical liaison, whose role at Hospice includes visits to physician’s offices and to families across the county promoting hospice and palliative care. A Jamestown native, Cusimano has several years of experience working in pediatrics and she is also a licensed practical nursing instructor. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Jamestown Community College and Daemen College.

They were accompanied by Zach Agett, vice president of community engagement at Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care, and Craig Garass-Johnson, director of marketing and communications for the organization.

Through an extensive slide presentation, Cusimano compared the functions of palliative care and hospice care. Palliative care assists patients with any serious illness at any stage of a disease, while Hospice is limited to care of patients with a terminal illness and a prognosis of six or fewer months. Palliative care can include restorative therapy while hospice care is primarily comfort care.

Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care offers many advanced and specialized programs, some beyond the basic, traditional core of hospice services. Cusimano explained that many terminal patients can live an average of 29 days longer, in greater comfort, in better connection with loved ones, and they experience fewer visits to the emergency department, accounting for an average saving of $14,000 per patient through hospice. Other services provided by hospice beyond the usual are music, massage and pet therapy, hairstyling and Life Legacy Writing.

Nationally, 84% of families using hospice care state they would recommend it to others, and it reaches 94% in Chautauqua County.

Hospice also provides 13 months of post-death bereavement care for survivors which is also available to anyone in the County who has lost a loved one even if they have not been in hospice care.

Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care just opened its five-bed Star Hospice House in Lakewood for those who cannot be care for at home.

Cusimano added a statement she believes summarizes the mission and purpose of Hospice: “The end of life should be experienced with as much beauty and respect as life’s beginning.”

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