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Hospice clients more diverse

December 04, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- When Hospice of Washington County was being organized as an all-volunteer agency nearly 30 years ago, the first clients usually shared a common diagnosis of cancer.

Now, the 162 hospice clients have everything from cancer to dementia, chronic illnesses, lung and heart disease, and organ system failures, according to the agency's medical director, Dr. Frederic Kass.

Kass has a practice in internal medicine and oncology.

"My role is to act as educator for staff on new patients as well as to review the care patients get through hospice," Kass said.

Dr. Cynthia Kuttner-Sands, a geriatrician who specializes in the treatment of older adults, is associate hospice medical director. She splits her time between the agency at 747 Northern Ave. and Homewood at Williamsport.

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Hospice Executive Director Susan Taylor said Kass was part of the grass-roots group that started the hospice in Washington County in 1980. At that time, the services didn't fit the criteria for Medicare or Medicaid benefits, Taylor said.

Kass said clients and families appreciate the care and support of hospice, where teams of nurses, social workers, chaplains, aides and volunteers work with each client and family.

"All services are offered, and if they need others, they can choose," Kass said.

Kass, a native of New Jersey, was educated in New York, Washington, D.C., and Virginia in hematology, oncology and internal medicine. He came to Washington County 29 years ago.

Kuttner-Sands is from New York and received most of her medical training there, finishing her studies in geriatrics at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. She came to Washington County in 1997.

"This job is right up her alley," Kass said of Kuttner-Sands.

Hospice of Washington County maintains office hours Monday through Friday and can be reached at 301-791-6360.

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