Hospice Care: The Basics
By Avis LaGrange MSW, LCSW , CHA, Community Educator, River Region Hospice, New Orleans LIVING WELL Magazine
Approximately 2.5 million Americans die each year in the U.S. Unfortunately less than half of those with life limiting illness choose to utilize hospice care at the end of their lives. This is due in part to lack of accurate information about hospice care in general, and misinformation provided by the healthcare professionals.
We at River Region Hospice would like for each individual facing a serious or terminal illness to have a working knowledge of hospice care. This knowledge allows the patient to ask appropriate questions of their healthcare provider. Here are some basic facts about hospice that one should be aware of: (1) Hospice care provides excellent end of life care focusing on the palliation of symptoms through a multidisciplinary team of heath care professionals. Symptoms may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social in nature. Care is provided either in the patient’s home, or that of a relative, nursing home, assisted living center, group home, or at our inpatient hospice house. (2) Patients must be determined to have a prognosis of six months or less to live in the best estimation of their physician. (3) Patients agree to forgo “curative” measures for their disease, and agree to supportive care. (4) Some of the more common diagnoses of those receiving hospice care include: cancer, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) disease, COPD, emphysema, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, renal disease, stroke, coma, liver disease, and AIDS.
While these are the more common diagnoses for hospice patients, virtually any disease process with a six month or less prognosis will meet the diagnosis criteria for hospice care. (5) Hospice care is covered 100% by Medicare Part A. Other payers such as Medicaid and commercial insurances often mirror Medicare coverage of hospice services. (6) A physician’s order is required to receive hospice care. River Region Hospice offers free informational visits, which do not require a physician’s order.
You may set up a visit with River Region Hospice by calling 504-739-1205. Your comfort at the end of life is our goal.