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Hospice FAQ

Is it true that Medicare provides only six months of hospice care and that I should delay enrollment as long as possible?

Medicare law does not time-limit the hospice benefit. Patients may enroll when their physician and the hospice medical director judge that the illness is terminal, with an estimated life expectancy of six months or less. All patients with Hospice Services for more than six months must be recertified. This means that the hospice registered nurse and medical director will reassess the patient's status and current needs. The patient and family always will be notified that the patient is being reassessed and the results of the assessment.

Is all hospice care is the same?

Even in the same community, hospices may vary markedly, especially in the kinds of treatment patients actually receive. Hospice Services of Southwest General is your community hospice. Remember bigger is not always better. Sometimes it is only bigger. Quality of care is the passion of Hospice Services of Southwest General.

Is it true that patients can’t receive curative treatments while in hospice?

Once a patient is in hospice, it is understood that the disease has progressed beyond a cure, and curative treatments would not be sought. Hospice is aimed at comfort care. Any treatment needed for comfort is possible.

Does hospice mean giving up hope and that Hospice workers help people die?

Hope is vital for every one of us. Hospice workers recognize that hope is a powerful, ever-changing force that continues throughout the time of living and the process of dying. Hospice offers hope for personal dignity, freedom from invasive procedures and safety. Hospice offers hope for freedom from isolation, abandonment, loneliness, loss of control, physical pain and hope that the family will be nurtured and supported, even after the death of a patient. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death.

Is it true that hospice is only useful for heavy-duty pain medications?

Hospice care utilizes pain medication only as necessary to alleviate physical pain. The members of the hospice team also provide social, psychological and spiritual support.

Is it true that you can’t keep your own doctor while in hospice?

You can keep your own doctor if you wish to do so. Most hospices establish working relationships with a wide base of referring physicians so that patients can keep their own doctors after admission to hospice care.

Is hospice only for cancer patients?

Hospice care is available to any person with an advanced illness, including non-cancer diagnoses such as congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic lung disease.

Is hospice only for the sick family member?

Hospice Services is designed to support all family members during the illness. Bereavement support services are available to the whole family for up to two years after the death.

Is it true that hospice is a place and you must leave home to receive hospice care?

Most hospice care is provided in the home, though inpatient care is available at The Thomas P. Perciak Family Residential Hospice for those who need inpatient care.

Is hospice expensive?

Generally, hospice care costs less than hospital or nursing home care and saves significant money for Medicare. (With hospice, Medicare saves 62 cents for every dollar spent on medical care in the last six months of life.)