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Help through hospice - Glencoe couple appreciates local service

Long before they needed the service, Bob and Sandy Tibbits of Glencoe have supported ConnectCare — later taken over by Allina — by attending the annual Blizzard Blast fundraiser.
Bob Tibbits said the couple attended the Blast for several years before they began spending winters in Arizona.
Which is why, after Sandy Tibbits was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), they looked to the local hospice program for assistance as Sandy’s disease progress.
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Patients gradually lose physical function, although their mental faculties remain acute.
Sandy Tibbits was diagnosed in December 2013. During the winter of 2014-15, she was hospitalized in Arizona, and then again when the couple returned home to Minnesota. They asked doctors at both the Mayo Clinic and Glencoe what they should do to manage her care. Both suggested hospice.
“We were very familiar with ConnectCare, so we never considered anything else,” said Bob Tibbits.
And the family has been impressed with the care they have received through the local hospice program.
“They are very good, very well trained,” said Sandy Tibbits, who speaks through an application on an iPad, that transcribes her typed messages into spoken words.
Sandy is currently confined to her home, moving from bed to recliner with an occasional trip outside in a wheelchair. A machine helps with her breathing.
Bob Tibbits said the program provides a wide range of services. Along with nurses and aides, there is a registrered nurse who visits twice a week, a chaplain, a massage therapist, social worker and a doctor.
While the hospice program also offers music therapy, Sandy Tibbits has her own group of musicians to give her support.
Every Thursday, about eight members of Christ Lutheran Church’s choir come to visit. Before her illness, Sandy was an active member of the choir.
Having aides come in daily allows Bob Tibbits to take some respite time. In the summer, on Tuesdays, he plays golf in the men’s league. On Fridays, he has coffee “with the guys.”
Along with the support from Allina’s program and the church choir, the Tibbitses also get help from two other services, Prairie River and Guardian Home Care, both of which they find helpful and professional.
They also get a lot of support from family and friends. Their two sons and grandchildren try to visit weekly, and Bob Tibbits said their circle of friends has been boundless with attention, food and visits for the family.
Their family also participates in the annual ALS Association Walk in St. Cloud, and has been the top fundraising team the past few years. The association also helps the family with medical equipment.
Bob Tibbits said there is no cure for ALS.
“It’s a degenerative disease. You just keep trying to hold your own and try to minimize the symptoms,” he said.
Both Bob and Sandy Tibbits said that they would recommend the local hospice program to anyone in need, and also encourage support of the annual fundraiser, Blizzard Blast.
“Definitely,” said Sandy, who gave a thumbs up when asked if she would recommend Allina to others.
The annual Blizzard Blast is set for Friday, Jan. 27, at 5:30 p.m., at the Glencoe City Center.
There will be live music by South 40 and Doug Stuedeman, and Dr. Bill Dunbar will be the emcee. There also will be live and silent auctions, a meal and a raffle.
Tickets are available at Allina Home Health Care Services in Hutchinson, King Pin Pub in Plato, Cash Wise Foods in Hutchinson, Coborn’s in Glencoe, Glencoe Chamber of Commerce, Glencoe Regional Health Services and Hutchinson Health.
In addition, Allina announced this week that it will continue to operate a thrift store in Glencoe. More information on the store’s location and hours will be released at a later date.