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New Ulm Medical Center

New Ulm Hospice extends care and services, thanks to partners

The use of hospice services has grown dramatically in recent years. The aging U.S. population is becoming more aware of all that hospice has to offer and how it is cost-effective and covered by Medicare and other insurance.

Hospice programs such as New Ulm Hospice offer an extensive list of professional services for people who have a life-limiting illness whose life expectancy is likely to be six months or less if the disease runs its natural course. Those services include:

  • development of a plan of care
  • coordination of that plan of care and liaison services between the patient, their family and their physician
  • registered nursing services for recommending medications, treatments and other nursing services
  • a registered nurse and physician on call any time of the day or night
  • social worker and chaplain services
  • volunteers who can provide respite care and light housekeeping or errands
  • programs and care geared specifically to veterans
  • training and education on hospice philosophy, services and care for patients, families and staff members of partner facilities.

Quality of life – through pain and symptom management and emotional, social and spiritual support for the family – is the central focus of hospice care. The patient and his or her family choose the setting: home, nursing home, assisted living facility or group home.

“We are doing a lot to try to educate people about hospice but there are still a lot of misconceptions, such as that hospice is only for people with cancer,” said Mavis Pautz, RN, manager, New Ulm Home Care and Hospice. “Hospice care is available to people with diagnoses of dementia, heart, liver and kidney disease, and others. People can enroll in hospice with a life expectancy of six months or less and then leave the program if they improve and stabilize. There are no consequences; they can re-enter hospice if needed at a later date.”

For the past three years, New Ulm Hospice has been reaching out to create partnerships. It has started offering its services to residents in more than 16 long-term care facilities and is working to add another 10 partners.

During 2012, New Ulm Hospice assisted one partner, a Community Options & Resources (COR) home for adults with developmental disabilities in Madelia, to provide care for two residents who passed away.

“Everything ran very smoothly with the hospice nurse and social worker visits. They were very sincere and explained everything step by step,” said Chelsea Hoeft, COR program coordinator. “Our residents were able to stay home and comfortable in their own bed and surroundings. We’re grateful New Ulm Hospice was here.”

A coordinator at another partner facility, the Reflections memory care unit at Ridgeway Assisted Living in New Ulm, said it’s extremely helpful for hospice patients with memory loss to be able to stay in assisted living apartments that may have been their home for several years. Families can often avoid moving these loved ones into the hospital at the end of their lives, said Sarah Mertz, Reflections program coordinator.

“We’ve partnered with New Ulm Hospice for a couple of years, and since then we’ve had seven residents in hospice,” Mertz said.

Pautz noted that hospice professionals can help partner organizations identify residents who could benefit from hospice services, and enroll them earlier so the patient and their family can benefit fully.

For more information about New Ulm Hospice, including a copy of the “Patient and Family Guide to Hospice and End of Life Care,” or to schedule a free hospice consultation, please call 507-217-5555. For more information about New Ulm Hospice, part of Allina Health, please view our new video at