What is Hospice?
Hospice is specialized care for those facing a life-limiting illness, their families and their caregivers. Hospice care addresses the patient’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Choosing to elect hospice care is an important decision that can greatly benefit the quality of life for a patient with a life-limiting illness in addition to providing support to a patient’s family during a difficult time. The following frequently asked questions will help you better understand the hospice benefit. Is hospice for those with cancer only? No. Hospice patients are living with a wide range of diagnoses including heart disease, cancer, dementias, lung disease and others. However, regardless of a patient’s condition, or age, hospices open their doors and their hearts to all persons diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses and their families. What specific assistance does hospice provide? Hospice patients and their families are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social works, hospice aides, spiritual advisors and volunteers. This team works together to address the patient’s and family’s needs. In addition, hospices help provide medications, supplies and equipment. How does hospice manage pain? Hospice nurses and physicians are experts in the latest medications for pain and symptom relief. Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so it addresses these, as well. Is hospice care covered by insurance? Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in most states, and by most private health insurance policies. If a patient does not have the ability to pay for hospice many hospices provide “charity care.” When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made? At any time during a life-limiting illness, it is appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. By law the decision belongs to the patient. Because hospice care includes family members and other caregivers, they are also considered an important part of the decision-making process. Sometimes people have concerns about changing the focus of care from disease-modifying to focus on comfort care and quality of life. Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them with the patient, family and physician. Choosing a hospice One of the best ways to choose a hospice is to ask questions. A local provider such as Hospice of Laurens County is more than willing to help you understand services and how they might be appropriate for your specific situation. Our office is located at 1304 Springdale Drive in Clinton. Our agency began in 1987 and has served thousands of patients over the past 28 years. We provide care wherever the patient calls home. Although the majority of our patients we serve live in Laurens County, we are licensed in 8 counties. Abbeville, Greenwood, Greenville, Spartanburg, Saluda, Laurens, Newberry and Union counties. Our clinical team is led by our Medical Director Patsy Sadler. Dr. Sadler and the hospice team are here to provide end-of-life care to our community. Hospice of Laurens County has the only inpatient unit in our county (the nearest is over 30 miles away). Most of the care is provided in the patient’s home but the hospice house is crown jewel and a safety net for many families. The 12-bed facility was built in 2008. Please contact our office at 864-833-6287 when we can assist. Our website is www.hospiceoflaurenscounty.com. We are here to help. (Jay Wilson is executive director of Hospice of Laurens County.)