People have many reasons for not wanting to talk about death and grief. Not being able to cure an illness makes some people feel like a failure. Others feel that their loved one will feel like they are being abandoned by the rest of the family when hospice discussions begin. Talking about the end-of-life stage and dying may bring additional financial worries or worry about delays in case management approval. Families that lack knowledge about end-of-life issues often feel hopeless, but learning more about how to handle a natural progression in life, like death, can make a positive difference.
Medicare is the largest funder of hospice services, nationally. The hospice provider must be certified by Medicare to be able to bill them for services. Physicians, nurse managers, and other healthcare coordinators will likely know which hospice facilities are approved for Medicare funding. The state hospice organization or state health department will also be able to direct interested parties to certified Medicare hospice providers. Medicare will cover all expenses including staff, medical equipment, and supplies.
Occasionally, despite a physician’s calculation of telling a patient that they will likely live no longer than six months, the patient’s health improves or their illness goes into remission. At that point, the individual and their family may choose to stop hospice care services. The hospice provider will ask the patient to sign a form that indicates the date the hospice care will stop. Patients that choose to stop hospice care will get to restart the same type of Medicare coverage they had before they became ill. If the patient meets criteria for hospice care again at a later date, hospice care can be restarted at that time.
Pikes Peak and Hospice & Palliative Care takes an individualized approach to hospice care. Pikes Peak is the only area hospice provider that has its own licensed inpatient care unit for patients that have the most serious care needs. They also have an in-house pharmacy. Families of veterans will appreciate that they are a Level 4 national partner of We Honor Veterans, which is a specialized program for veterans.
Optum and Palliative Care is accredited by the Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP). Optum’s approach is a provider-led, interdisciplinary team, that helps reduce pain, troublesome symptoms, and suffering. Optum uses palliative care consultations to supplement curative therapies for patients with a serious illness. For families dealing with end-of-life issues, the program provides bereavement support to help families through the grieving process.
Interim Healthcare has a hospice program that provides personalized care and care coordination. Staff supports patients who want to stop extraordinary measures that only serve to prolong life. The program offers families access to pastoral care, therapists, counseling, respite care, and a bereavement program that lasts for up to 13 months after the patient’s death. Families can also get education and training in caregiving.
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