Hospice of Acadiana – Serving End of Life Needs as Area’s Only Nonprofit Hospice

Kacee Thompson, Executive Director of the Hospice of Acadiana Foundation, joined Jan Swift of Discover Lafayette to explain the mission and services offered by the area’s oldest and only nonprofit hospice. Fate and faith led Kacee to serve this organization which has brought great solace to those in our community at the end of their life.

Many of us are familiar with the concept of hospice but don’t know much about the mechanics of what occurs when a patient is ready for end of life care or how the cost of services is covered.

In Acadiana, we have been fortunate to have had the leadership of Father Louis Richard in bringing hospice to our region.

Following the death of his grandmother while he was a seminarian studying in Belgium, Lafayette-native Father Louis worked at St. Christopher’s House near London with British physician, Dr. Cicely Saunders. Dr. Saunders is considered to be the founder of the modern-day Hospice movement, and it was there that Father Louie developed a deep commitment to caring for the dying.

Returning home to Lafayette following his ordination, Father Louis met with other community leaders and, in 1983, helped establish Hospice of Acadiana, Inc.—a nonprofit hospice committed to providing quality care at the end of life for all, regardless of their ability to pay for these services.

Hospice of Acadiana remains the only nonprofit hospice in our area. With the longest record of continuous service of any hospice in Louisiana, since 1983 they have served over 24,000 patients and their families. With a full-time staff physician, 300 volunteers, 70 full-time employees, and a dozen volunteer physicians, Hospice serves a 9 parish area for patients who live within a fifty-mile radius of the organization’s offices at 2600 Johnston St. in Lafayette.

Patients with a terminal illness or condition that have a prognosis of six months or less to live are eligible for Hospice of Acadiana’s services. The main goal is always to keep the patients at home where they will be most comfortable. In some instances, home care is not available and the patient will be admitted to a hospital or nursing home. A long term goal of Hospice of Acadiana is to build an in-patient hospice facility for those who are not able to remain in their home.

Hospice of Acadiana treats much more than the medical condition of the patient. They offer chaplains, social workers, therapists, and volunteers who can tend to the social, emotional, and financial needs of the patient as well as the patient’s family. Emotional and social factors arise upon an end of life diagnosis, and the hospice team brings experienced counseling for those in need.

Several programs are available for patients and their families: The Center for Loss & Transition offers grief counseling by certified bereavement counselors in an interactive approach to assist individuals process their grief. Camp Brave Hearts is a two day camp for children ages 7 to 11 who have experienced loss in a fun setting run by volunteers. Pet Peace of Mind is a national organization that locals can join to help hospice patients as they become unable to tend to their pets: volunteers walk, feed and clean up after the pets, and provide permanent placement for the pet after the patient passes. We Honor Veterans Program thanks veterans while they are still alive by presenting pins, Commendations from the State Legislature to thank the patient for their service to our country.

Hospice of Acadiana was selected by New York University to participate in a five-year study on how to better care for dementia patients who are in hospice care. This collaborative effort with Hospice will determine how caregivers may best meet the needs of patients who

Hospice began offering palliative care in January 2019 for those who have a terminal condition that may have a longer prognosis than the typical six-month term. These patients have the same needs for medical and social care and this new program provides a much-needed service.

Similar to “for profit” hospices in the Acadiana region, Hospice of Acadiana bills Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance for reimbursement for services. The Foundation raises funds to meet the need for services who do not qualify for these funding sources.

If you are interested in making a corporate or in-kind donation, please contact Foundation Director Kacee Thompson at (337) 232-1234 or via email at kacee@hospiceacadiana.com. All contributions to the Hospice of Acadiana Foundation are tax-deductible.

We’ve all had family or friends who have been impacted by the faith-driven work of Hospice of Acadiana. A new fundraiser is Beer, Burgers & Bingo which was successfully launched last year and will be held again in October 2019.  The signature way to give to Hospice of Acadiana is the annual “Hit The Road With Hospice of Acadiana Raffle” where you can spend $20 and win a chance to win a cruise, car or camper which kicks off March 30, 2019.  This year they are also kicking off their first annual Hit the Road With Hospice 5K Memorial Run/1 Mile Walk. 

For more information, please visit https://hospiceacadiana.com.