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November is Hospice Month, and here are 5 things you need to know

November 21, 2014
Estherville News

In the 1970's, a movement touted as the model for quality end-of-life care began tiptoeing through the nation. Over time, this movement - known as hospice - had also earned a reputation for offering taxpayers relief by caring for people with life-threatening illnesses in the comfort of their homes. Savings was realized every time a patient was able to avoid costly and redundant hospital stays. As a result, Congress enacted the Medicare Hospice Benefit and, in 1984, President Reagan signed the first National Hospice Month proclamation. The November Hospice awareness campaign and proclamation has been recognized annually by the Office of the President ever since.

Today, public endorsements of the hospice benefit are happening in cities and states across the entire country. Every time a new Hospice Month proclamation is signed, community leaders are helping people gain a better understanding of the extensive services available to patients and their families through hospice. "This recognition of National Hospice Month is an important step in building awareness for hospice as a worthwhile part of the continuum of care for patients," says Dr. Andrew Mayo, Chief Medical Officer at St. Croix Hospice a local hospice provider.

The rapid and quiet evolution of hospice care in America has allowed misconceptions about hospice to penetrate the healthcare industry, and subsequently, general opinion. Relative to this, here are five facts about hospice that might surprise you:

n Hospice is not a place. Hospice is a healthcare program and philosophy of care focused on improving quality of life and comfort for patients with advanced illness who have a life expectancy of 6 months or less. Hospice also supports a patient's caregivers and loved ones.

n Hospice isn't just for the last few days or weeks of life. Patients may receive hospice care for six months or more as long as they are deemed clinically eligible.

n Patients have the right to choose any hospice provider they trust, regardless of health system affiliations the patient's primary physician or nurse practitioner may have.

n Hospice is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, the VA and many private insurance plans. All hospice services, medical equipment, supplies and medications related to the patient's hospice diagnosis are paid for by hospice.

n Hospice is not just for people with cancer. Hospice care is for any person living with an illness that limits life expectancy, that has decided comfort care is their wish, and has been given written consent from their family physician to enroll in hospice.

Amber Raveling,




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