Dying children soon will be eligible for care from Hospice Buffalo.
Hospice Buffalo, which cares for dying patients, is planning a number of expansions next spring, among them the addition of the South Towns in its coverage and providing services to terminally ill patients in nursing homes.
The agency has received a number of telephone calls in the past year requesting coverage for dying children and their families.
"We are going to have nurses who are trained in pediatrics," said Rosa Whetzle, director of development.
Hospice care controls symptoms and relieves pain, as well as providing emotional and spiritual support, in the patient's home or a hospital. The agency also operates a 10-bed inpatient unit in Alden.
The agency hopes to enter into contracts with Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital to take care of children who must be hospitalized, she said.
Hospice Buffalo care for children will begin in March, enabling many children with terminal illnesses to remain at home.
"It will mean a lot to both the kids and the parents," Ms. Whetzle said.
She said parents would benefit from bereavement support offered by the agency.
Hospice Buffalo began treating patients, mainly those suffering from cancer, in 1980. Changes made in 1989, such as accepting patients with any terminal illness, and allowing patients to continue with their own physician, have made next year's expansion possible, Ms. Whetzle said.
Nursing home residents still will be cared for by nursing home staff, but starting in April, the agency will begin offering support services.
In late spring, it will begin offering services to the 10 South Towns communities, Ms. Whetzle said. The firm has a contract with Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville should patients in the South Towns need to be hospitalized.
The agency has covered the northern two-thirds of Erie County.
A concerted effort also is being made to publicize Hospice Buffalo in the African-American and Hispanic communities.
"We've already begun that market," said Ms. Whetzle. "We do not feel the members of the African American and Hispanic communities are aware of the services Hospice has to offer."
The agency plans to recruit and hire minority hospice teams, officials said.
As a memorial to those who have died and a fund-raiser for Hospice Buffalo, a tree has been placed in front of Computer Task Group Inc., 800 Delaware Ave. For each gift, a name will be displayed as a light throughout this month.