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Palliative care center is nearing completion

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POTSDAM — Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley is putting the finishing touches on a palliative care center next to its headquarters on Route 11 that will provide services to patients beyond those with terminal illnesses.

Hospice includes palliative care, but not all palliative care is hospice.

Hospice is for people not expected to live more than six months and who are not seeking treatment to cure their diseases. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of a person who has any kind of serious illness by helping to ease symptoms and pain, and to deal with psychological stress. Comfort is its main purpose.

Palliative care beyond hospice patients is common in more metropolitan areas and larger hospitals.

“It’s just not been something that’s available up here,” Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley Executive Director Brian D. Gardam said. “It’s an extension of the type of care Hospice provides. We’re building a service for the community.”

The agency is envisioning a nurse practitioner connected with its palliative care center who will also be available to hospitals and nursing homes.

When the house next to Hospice’s headquarters became available, the opportunity seemed right.

“We were already thinking of a separate palliative care office. We wanted to have a location where we could have regular office hours,” Mr. Gardam said. “It just seemed to fit.”

Rather than tear down the building, Hospice is renovating the modular home.

“We decided to build from what was there,” Mr. Gardam said. “It was less expensive and it worked. It does obviously look compatible. We do really have to thank Dick Maginn, our contractor.”

Both buildings have an Adirondack theme. Cost for the property purchase and the renovation is expected at about $240,000. Most of the payment for the project will come from reserves from previous fund-raising.

The building’s staff will include a social worker, a nurse practitioner, Hospice medical director Dr. Sandra A. McCloy, and Dr. Gary Burke, who was certified last year in hospice and palliative care.

The palliative care service of Hospice could see 3,000 patient visits a year, Mr. Gardam said.

The agency provides case management and a support program for patients recently discharged from hospitals.

While the building may be finished in November, the center will probably not open until February, after furniture and equipment are purchased and the staff is in place.

“I think we’ll be open a few days a week to receive patients,” Mr. Gardam said.

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