Palliative care available in the Valley


The Platte Valley Medical Clinic does not offer hospice care, but can provide palliative care to patients with the need.

“There is a distinction between hospice and palliative care,” said Dr. Dean Bartholomew, of the Platte Valley Medical Clinic. “Hospice is an actual program. In order to have a hospice designation, you have to have a certain staff.”

Bartholomew said, in order to provide actual hospice care at the clinic, he would need to hire a social worker and a pastor, a move not realistic for smaller communities like Saratoga.

“With our size of a clinic, we can’t do that. I can’t hire a pastor and a social worker,” Bartholomew said.

However, the Platte Valley Medical Clinic still provides palliative care, which is very similar to hospice care, Bartholomew said.

“Hospice is actually more of an insurance definition,” he said. Palliative care is the actual delivery of the care.”

Bartholomew said he, with the help of Merlynn Hoopes, provided palliative care to families who did not want to leave the Platte Valley for hospice care, or for a hospice center.

“A lot of our residents don’t want to leave their home for hospice care, so what we have tried to do is bring that care to their house,” Bartholomew said. “We just come along side the family and try to educate them and turn that process into something that is not so scary.”

Bartholomew said he and Hoopes can provide supplies when needed and help those going through the dying process. Bartholomew and Hoopes also offer education to the families.

The state of Wyoming has hospice centers, which offer care to terminal patients 24 hours a day. The nearest hospice centers are in Casper and Cheyenne.

Bartholomew said he has offered his palliative care to about 15 families, and only one family decided to seek hospice care elsewhere.

A community group formed and met in October, looking at the presence of hospice care in the Platte Valley. Bartholomew said he has spoken with that group and is working with them to spread awareness of his services.

“We have partnered with them, and they are going to help spread awareness of what we do,” Bartholomew said.


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