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Hospice offers more than medical help to families with ailing loved ones
Becky Hooper touches Felecie Miller’s face during a recent visit to her room at New Horizon Limestone. Miller, a former school teacher who taught math and English in Louisiana for 36 years, has been in hospice for six years in Gainesville.

Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center
2150 Limestone Parkway, Suite 222, Gainesville
770-219-8888, 1-888-572-3900

Felecie Miller lives at a nursing home where she is never alone; her husband is by her side each day, and Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center visits two to three times a week.

“She has dementia and she has diabetes and other health problems,” said Charles Miller.

Originally from Louisiana, Felecie Miller was a school teacher who taught math and English in Louisiana for 36 years.

For almost six years, Charles Miller has traveled from his son’s house in Gainesville to New Horizons Limestone to take care of his 93-year-old wife.

“We haven’t been able to go home,” he said. “I stay at my son’s house at night and I spend all my days here.”

In the past, the Millers would travel to visit their son from Louisiana about three times a year.

Charles Miller recalls one visit. “We came for a 10-day visit, (Felecie Miller) got very sick and we had to take her to the hospital,” he said.

After that, the Millers had to stay — a circumstance that plays out in many families, and one that sometimes becomes more common at the holidays when family visit aging relatives.

“She cannot do anything for herself; she has to have constant care,” Charles Miller said. “She has to have sitters all night long and I’m here all day long.”

Other than his son, Charles Miller said he does not really have any local friends. But that changed several months ago when hospice started helping out.

Hospice of NGMC offers every patient a nurse, a social worker and a chaplain, if needed, for emotional support.

“These people from hospice have been extremely helpful,” he said. “They have become my close friends.”

More than the average person, hospice has showed the Millers they care.

“The main thing is that they share all the information on my wife and they go out of their way to be helpful,” Charles Miller said.

One way hospice helps out is that they make sure Felecie Miller is getting the medication she needs. Workers are always asking Charles Miller if there is anything they can do for him or his wife.

Along with taking care of the patients basic needs, Hospice of NGMC offers complimentary therapy; it offers a harpist, massage therapists and volunteers who will sit with the patient.

“When you’re caring for a dying patient, it’s not just about the patient, it’s about the whole family,” said Becky Hooper, a social worker for the hospice.

Hooper believes that her job is more than a job; it is truly caring for patients and their loved ones.

“We think it’s important, even at the end of life, that family members and patients are treated with dignity and respect and that they are given those special touches that can make end-of-life care a little bit easier,” she said.

Caring for the Millers has touched Hooper’s heart.

“(Charles Miller) is the epitome of taking the marriage vows of ‘sickness and in health’ to the absolute limit,” Hooper said. “He is at her bedside all day, every day. He wakes her up, he feeds her and he just loves her. It is an amazing thing to watch.”

Thanks to hospice, Charles Miller feels more confident in the care that his wife is getting.

“Its helps to know that they are going to be coming and checking on her,” he said.

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