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Big Bend Hospice serving growing homeless population in Tallahassee

Posted at 5:18 PM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-16 17:18:36-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Without a physical address to many in society you are invisible, add to that being terminally ill and it's a terrifying situation.

A local nonprofit is giving those who are experiencing homelessness the dignity and care they deserve, which may become more challenging as their numbers continue to rise.

"Death doesn't discriminate. It doesn't matter what your economic status is or any other discriminating factors, everybody dies and at Big Bend Hospice we look at that person regardless of any diversities or economic factor," said Sharon Davidson, Senior Director of Volunteer & Community Services.

Help for those who can't help themselves. Big Bend Hospice say there has been an increase in the past few years of patients in their care who are experiencing homelessness.

"We are averaging about $20,000 a month taking care of 35 to 37 this year alone," said Davidson.

Most come from the emergency rooms of the hospitals and don't have insurance. Healthcare is expensive and representatives for hospice say they couldn't do what they do without the support of the community.

"We are so lucky at Big Bend Hospice, through the eight counties that we serve, through their financial contributions, we are able to take care of the patients that don't have payroll sources," said Gini West, Chief Clinical Officer for Big Bend Hospice.

The hospice cares for patient's mental and physical needs, their holistic approach includes among other things, pain management, social workers, music therapy and spiritual counseling.

There are misconceptions that hospice is only for the last few days of life or a crisis event. The nonprofit says the earlier a patient gets care the better.

"We help you manage your symptoms so the quality of your life is as good as it can be," said West.

With the number of homeless patients needing hospice care grows, the quality of care at Big Bend Hospice has remained high, something they hope to continue.

"We're just worried that will get harder and harder as the numbers grow," said West.

For more information on Big Bend Hospice's programs, click here.