Hospice Owner Heeds God’s Call
To Provide Physical and Spiritual Comfort
by Lisa Tramontana
It takes a special kind of person to care for patients with advanced illness. It’s especially difficult when the word “hospice” emerges in family conversations, making it clear that comfort, not cure, is the best possible outcome.
Janette Roulston understands this on a personal and professional level, thanks to 40 years of experience as a registered nurse in the home health and hospice care industries. For the last 13 years, she has owned and managed Hospice in His Care, based in Baton Rouge. The company has a staff that includes nurses, aides, social workers, volunteers and chaplains who provide services for patients in their homes, in nursing facilities and in assisted living facilities. More than a supervisor, Roulston is involved in the company’s day-to-day activities, from providing medical treatment to serving lunches to organizing special events.
Hospice in His Care accepts patients when two physicians have certified that their diagnosis indicates they have six months or less to live should their disease follow its normal course — thus the term comfort care. It’s appropriate for many conditions, including late stage heart or lung disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s among others.
A positive outlook
Even so, it’s wrong to equate hospice with hopelessness, Roulston said. Hospice care is dedicated to helping patients and families accept terminal illness in a positive way with a determination to make the quality of life the best it can be. This means ensuring that the patient is surrounded by compassion, respect, sensitivity, hope and love during their final days. That means forming relationships and making connections, Roulston said. While some patients simply want help with household chores or personal care, others long for more, such as creating new friendships and sharing stories and memories.
During hospice care, patients continue to receive medical treatment, especially for things like infections, pain or anxiety. If their symptoms or conditions cannot be managed through hospice care, they can be transferred temporarily or permanently to an inpatient hospice in Baton Rouge — Carpenter House, The Butterfly Wing or The Crossing, for example.
Emotional and spiritual support
“But basically, we are providing physical comfort while offering emotional support and honoring the family’s wishes and choices,” Roulston said. “Hospice in His Care is not affiliated with any particular denomination, but the company honors all beliefs and backgrounds. And there is definitely a spiritual component to what we provide.”
The chaplains on staff visit patients frequently, sing and pray with them, bring Holy Communion to those who request it, and counsel patients and family members. The social workers help families secure funds, enroll them in appropriate healthcare services, and connect them to “Make a Wish”-type organizations. “We become very close to our patients,” Roulston said, “and we come to understand that it is a privilege to serve them in this way and at this time in their lives.”
Hospice in His Care was recently named a 2016 Hospice Honors Elite winner. The award, given by Deyta, a division of HEALTHCARE First, recognizes hospices that provide the highest level of satisfaction for both the patient and caregiver experience as noted by the patients’ families.
Hearing God’s call
In spite of the long hours and the emotional toll, Roulston loves her work and always has. After all, what could be more important than helping people pass away peacefully and with dignity as they leave the physical life behind and enter eternal life?
“I’m in a position to see just how short life can be,” she said. “I think the most important thing any of us can do is discover our calling — figure out what God wants us to do in this life. Every morning when I wake up, I want to walk beside God, hear his voice, and know that I am doing what he wants me to do. It’s important to me to answer his calling.”
Roulston says she is blessed with a 47-year marriage and an extended family that has grown to include five grandchildren. “God is wonderful,” she said. “I look around me and see that I’ve been blessed beyond words. And best of all, I’m happy — truly happy.”
For more information, visit the website at hospiceinhiscare.com or call (225) 214-0010. Roulston can answer questions regarding finances, patient services, staff support, and how to tell when hospice care is appropriate for your loved one.