Is hospice just for cancer patients?

No. Hospice is designed for patients with any terminal illness.

Is hospice the same as home healthcare?

While both care for sick people, only hospice provides specialized care for the terminally ill patient and the patient's family. Our nurses are trained in pain management and work with the patient's doctor to control symptoms.

How soon should I begin talking about hospice with my family?

There is no better time than now. Although end-of-life planning can be difficult to discuss, sharing your thoughts with family members can help assure that you will receive the care you want.

Advance care planning is important. Advance care planning means knowing your treatment options and your values, talking with loved ones about the future, and then writing down your wishes.

How important is early referral?

An early referral is very important. The longer your relationship with hospice, the more effective we can be. Too often we are called in the very last days of life when the patient is near death and the family is exhausted and overwhelmed. When referral is this late, both the patient and the family have lost many opportunities for a better end-of-life experience. Patients and their families facing life limiting illnesses are encouraged to contact hospice for support.

What should I do if I think my family member needs hospice?

Anyone can call and inquire about hospice services. A nurse or social worker will review our services and answer your questions. We will be more than happy to assist you with the process concerning future needs over the phone or even make a home visit.

Do Medicare and Medicaid pay for hospice care?

Yes, and the reimbursement we receive from Medicare and Medicaid pays all the costs for covered hospice services, including the cost of medications related to the patient's hospice diagnosis and durable medical equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs.

Room and board charges in the in-patient unit are not covered by Medicare and Medicaid but may be covered by private insurance. Some private insurance policies have a hospice benefit that covers the charges less a deductible and co-insurance.

How often do nurse and other staff members visit the patient?

One of our nurses will visit at least once a week. These visits, approximately one hour long, will be used to check vital signs, review medications and discuss symptoms and any other patient and family concerns. More frequent visits are made, if needed. Other team members, including social workers, volunteers, nursing assistants, bereavement clinicians and chaplains will make regular or periodic visits, depending on the unique care plan developed for each patient. Many of these visits are on a regularly scheduled weekly basis. More frequent visits can always be arranged as patient and family needs dictate.

Are hospice services available after hours?

Yes. We are on-call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Our nurses are available nights and weekends. We also have other staff members available, including chaplains and social workers, when emergency support is needed.

What happens if the hospice patient needs to be hospitalized?

Hospice medical staff will coordinate the move to the hospital and maintain communication with the patient and the patient's physician during his or her stay at the hospital.

Does Hospice only provide services in a person's home?

No. Hospice services also are provided in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living residences and retirement communities as well as our inpatient units.