Hospice is a choice of care, not a diagnosis

Published 7:30 am Saturday, April 15, 2023

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Though many people think hospice means giving up, it is more about looking at goals of care and adjusting your care to fit them. When treatment has not proven effective or when there is no cure, hospice works to manage symptoms, like pain and anxiety, in the privacy of your home. It can help give you and your caregivers the tools and training so you can live comfortably and have the best days possible, whether you are in your own home, or in a nursing home/assisted living facility.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Hospice takes care of patients and their loved ones, providing physical, emotional, and spiritual support. Hospice also provides equipment, supplies, and most prescription medications related to hospice diagnosis. The patient’s care is directed by their personal physician and the hospice medical director, then carried out by the hospice nurses and staff.

One of the advantages of being enrolled in hospice care is the patient does not have to go back and forth to the hospital, emergency room, or multiple doctor’s appointments. Hospice nurses have scheduled visits with the patients in their home, plus are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year for emergencies that may arise. For example, a patient may suddenly experience shortness of breath, spike a fever, or sudden onset of pain. The nurse will come to you. Many things that can be done in an emergency room or clinic to treat pain and symptoms can instead be accomplished in the comfort of your home. Often, the hospice nurse can arrive, get the crisis or symptom managed, and the patient be more comfortable in much less time than the patient being transported to and treated in the emergency room.

There are no stipulations placed on the patient that requires them to be bedbound or home bound. In fact, hospice patients are encouraged to go and do as much as they can for as long as they can. Also, the hospice benefit is 100% covered by Medicare Part A, Medicaid, VA, and most commercial insurances. 

Hospice applies to many terminal diagnoses, not just cancer. Some other common diagnoses for hospice admission include heart failure, severe lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, severe kidney disease, liver disease, AIDS, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or ALS.

If you or someone you love is interested, please contact the hospice of your choice for any questions about hospice eligibility, criteria, and benefits.

“Decision is the spark that ignites action. Only when a decision is made will everything happen.”  (Wilfred A. Peterson)

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice).