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Palliative and Hospice Care Business Providing Peace and Dignity for Patients

by Clarence Thomas, Jr.

Middle Georgia medical patients and their families experiencing challenges related to chronic illness or the end of life have another resource. They can now call on OPTUM Palliative Care and Hospice Care.

Led by Executive Director Jacquita White Blount, OPTUM specializes in the provision of dignity, compassion and convenience for those in need of help during their battles with severe illnesses or end of life that sometimes stress, depress or distract patients and their families. OPTUM palliative care focuses on treating people experiencing struggles as a result of health issues. The Macon based business' hospice care emphasizes helping patients and their families with things related to the life of the patient coming to an end. Services include therapy, patient and family counseling, at home care and healthcare and transitional planning. "We are here to provide conditions that allow for comfortable, dignified, peaceful existences and transitions," said Blount. "When this happens people like that they are being embraced by a compassionate team."

That team is comprised of a bevy of health professionals Blount refers to as her Inter Disciplinary Group. They include physicians, nurses, social workers, Chaplins, volunteers, counselors and therapists. Together they provide service that has earned OPTUM the gold standard of accreditations - a Community Health Accreditation Program. In addition to the CHAP designation, the company - a subsidiary of United Health Group - is licensed by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Diversity is an asset as well says Blount. The OPTUM team is comprised of individuals from a cross sect of religions and cultures, with various levels of experience that have been educated at institutions of all kinds.

It's been said that a crew is only as good as the ship captain. Blount chooses to operate in a servant leader role with her staff. She feels that working with them from their position is more advantageous. No one can question her qualifications. She has twenty years in the business and health related degrees from Savannah State and Mercer Universities. The Macon native and married mother of two sons has led staffs in Pennsylvania and Georgia. Blount even received a proclamation from the Office of the Mayor in 2014. Even so, she is quick to position herself as the one bringing up the rear for her staff. "I believe I should be on the bottom holding them up and be their champion as they do life's best work. At OPUM you can do your life's best work," she said. "We are like the Knights of the Round Table. No one is more important than the other person."

The way OPTUM does business is working according to Stanley and Rhonda Winfield. The Macon couple came to know Blount while attending Macedonia Baptist Church with her. As fate would have it they both had elderly mothers suffering from severe dementia that would eventually claim Stanley's mom Cora Winfield and his spouse's mother Cornelia Smalls. Before the women succumbed to the disease the Winfields called on OPTUM to care for their parents as they transitioned. Rhonda says the staff went above and beyond the call of duty to make her mother’s twilight time bearable. Sometimes it came in the form of a phone call, other times it was manifested through a bath, turning Smalls in her bed, preparation of a light meal or the running of an errand for the family. Rhonda says it made a very difficult situation easier because of the OPTUM effort. "They put themselves in our shoes and knew what we were going through because they experienced it with us," Rhonda revealed. "They are a company that will provide confidence in them during this process." Stanley echoed his wife's sentiment concerning the service his mother received. "They were extraordinary and I would recommend them to others with the greatest confidence knowing they will take care of their loved ones too," he said.

OPTUM is solid. The company is worldwide. It serves a 50 square mile radius in all directions from Macon. Hospice care is available in 15 other locations throughout the country. It has been in Macon since 2007 and endeared itself to the business, civic and social communities. But what makes it special according to Blount is its commitment to serving patients and families well. The primary focus is comfort care to patients and their families says Blount and that’s what distinguishes it from competitors. "Most people love knowing that they're being treated as an individual not a statistic," she said. "My passion is making sure people's needs are being met with the kind of care we want for ourselves. That is how we do things at OPTUM."

For more information about OPTUM Palliative Care and Hospice Care call 478-321-9070 or 866-846-1310. Additional information about the company can be found at

Dr Anayo Umerah
Macon & Warner Robins


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Jacquita White Blount