Dr. Barbara Caton, associate medical director, has been with Masonic Village Hospice for the past three years.
She has practiced family medicine for the past 40 years, both in North Jersey and Pennsylvania. She also spent three years serving families of servicemen and women on a U.S. Navy base in Pensacola, Florida.
Dr. Caton loves the one-to-one patient focus of hospice over private practice, where she is more limited in terms of time per patient.
“Family medicine is a very regimented system,” she said. “With hospice, I can go out to a nursing home. Or I can see home patients in that setting with their families. I’m not under the pressure to rush. I love that part of the job.”
Dr. Caton alternates on-call weeks with Dr. John Mast, medical director. During 24-hour shifts, she fields calls from staff members on the team: nurses, social workers, chaplains and others. She also determines whether someone is eligible for hospice or another program if they are not in need of hospice at this time.
“We [myself and Dr. Mast] each have our own meetings on a weekly basis with teams discussing patient care,” she said. “We discuss all newly admitted patients to hospice and the ones who are up for recertification review for the next period of care, as well as our ongoing patients.
“Sometimes, patients decide to return to aggressive treatment or they become stabilized enough that they no longer require hospice services. That happens on occasion. It can be bittersweet for them and us, because often they see the Hospice team as part of their extended family with respect to helping their loved ones stay comfortable, reduce stress of care and in some cases, improve their status.”
As part of her responsibilities, Dr. Caton visits with patients and nurse care managers in person or through a video chat. If it’s an urgent situation, she can video chat with the patient’s family and evaluate the situation over the phone, whether it be a medication change or a need to order X-rays.
She visits Hospice patients in a variety of settings, including their homes, at a retirement living facility, an assisted living facility or personal care homes.
“There are quite a few settings offered,” she said. “Our services cover about a 30-mile radius from [the Elizabethtown] campus.”
“It’s a whole team approach,” Dr. Caton added. “The patient gets a lot of say about their care, rather than being told what to do. It’s amazing how mentally and emotionally better patients feel when they have ownership of their care. There’s a sense of empowerment for them when they have some control in their care.”
Dr. Caton grew up in a military family. She was born in Germany, where her father served in the U.S. Army, and traveled all over the world until she attended high school in Rockville, Maryland. She went on to graduate from Penn State University and the Philadelphia College for Osteopathic Medicine. She then completed a one-year internship and a one-year general practice residency before joining a family residency practice in South Jersey.
Dr. Caton, who lives near York, worked at WellSpan York Hospital System in family practice for several years, performing minor surgical procedures from different offices. She then joined a group called MD at Home, where she’d travel to see patients at home and in facilities. Prior to joining Masonic Village Hospice, Dr. Caton spent three years at Asana Hospice and Palliative Care in Harrisburg, PA.
Dr. Caton is happy to see the perception of hospice as a “place to die” is changing. She views hospice as a way to “live better” at the end of your life.
“We cannot predetermine actual time of death for patients, but we use the patient’s health and any declines in status to help prognosticate their end of life journey.” she said. “We try to make the most of the time they have left, whether it’s days, weeks or months.”
When she’s not working, Dr. Caton enjoys knitting, crocheting, sewing, crafts, walking her dog, baking and traveling with her husband, Dr. Dominic Glorioso, and their two daughters, ages 31 and 27.
“We are looking to go to a couple national parks this year,” she said. “We like to go to a fun place at least once a year.”
Masonic Village Hospice is grateful for Dr. Caton and all the dedicated staff members who work together to provide comfort and support for patients and their families.