JEFFERSONVILLE — With its new Jeffersonville office, Premier Hospice & Home Health hopes to expand its outreach in Southern Indiana.

The healthcare provider moved into a new office this summer in Water Tower Square at 400 Missouri Avenue. On Thursday, it celebrated a grand opening and ribbon cutting.

Premier Hospice also has offices in Carmel, Fort Wayne, Kokomo and Bloomington. It has been serving Southern Indiana since 2010, but this is its first office in the area.

Tracy Wagoner, regional marketing director, said the new office will help Premier Hospice become a staple in the community and help them spread the word about its services.

"I think it's really letting people know that we're here, and we're not going anywhere," she said. "All of our staff live in all the different cities and counties, and having that local office makes them really feel like if they want to stop by, they can. We're here, and we're part of the community."

Educating the Southern Indiana community is one of Premier Hospice's main goals, Wagoner said. She wants people to know exactly what services they provide and what it means to receive hospice care.

"So many people are afraid of the word hospice that they don't really understand that it's supportive care in the home," she said. "A lot of people think hospice means that we are coming in to help them die, when actually we are coming to help them live comfortably, however long it is."

Premier Hospice includes a patient care manager, a medical director, a registered nurse, a chaplain, home health aids, social workers and volunteers who serve the community. The company accepts Medicare, Medicaid and select private insurance plans.

Patient Care Manager Katie Mollenhoff said the new Premier Hospice location means that staff members are closer to patients in the area, and staff will be able to come into the office to learn different techniques. She said she hopes the healthcare provider will form community partnerships to further its outreach in the area.

Lisa Poynter, Premier Hospice liaison, said the new office will help the healthcare service grow and reach more people in Southern Indiana by showing people their options for hospice and home health care. She wants to have more conversations with community members to change negative perceptions of hospice care.

"Everyone thinks hospice is all doom and gloom, I'm going to die tomorrow, those kinds of things," she said. "Most of the time when I meet with a family, they are shocked with all the support they can get and see that I don't look like a grim reaper. I'm actually like a cheerleader to come and help them live the best life they possibly can."

New Albany resident Jon Pearce worked as a Premier Hospice volunteer in Seymour for about five years before moving to this area. He continues to volunteer for the company in Southern Indiana, and he believes the new office will be able to reach more people, particularly since it is located in an urban area.

He encourages community members to consider volunteering for hospice care. He said it has been an enriching experience to comfort patients who are facing terminal illnesses and to spend time with them.

"These are people who need good fellowship," he said. "They need people who really care and who want to bless them," he said.

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