ST. GEORGE – Death happens every day. It is a part of life, but the death process can be eased with some help from a home health or hospice care agency.
Terminal patients are released from the hospital or another care facility every day, and most doctors refer them to a hospice care provider to take care of their needs in a more private setting like the patient’s home. The doctor can refer terminally ill patients to a hospice agency if the patient has less than six months to live.
There are many home health and hospice care agencies in Southern Utah, but some private health facilities do not provide their patients with an array of options when released into follow-up care; rather, these facilities decide for the patient or perhaps usher the patient to choose a certain hospice care provider without considering the patient’s rights.
These facilities are not necessarily breaking the law, Social Worker Laurie Eno said, but they certainly are not considering the patient’s rights either. When a patient is released from a private or public health facility, he or she should be offered options of hospice care providers and educated on many things pertaining to hospice care, Eno said.
Hospice providers specialize in critical situations and do not only treat the patient, but also assist the patient’s family, friends, neighbors, and any other party who may be affected by the patient’s current situation.
“We are end-of-life specialists and can do things that nursing homes may be restricted to do,” Eno said. “Our expertise is in providing psycho social emotional benefits that support both the patient and their family.”
Some might worry about the extra cost involved with hospice care; but according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Medicare covered 83.4 percent of hospice care in 2009.
After the doctor refers the patient to hospice care, a lump sum of money is rewarded to the hospice provider through Medicare. Then the care is covered through that lump sum so the patient doesn’t have any out-of-pocket expense. The money awarded through Medicare covers: co-pays, nursing supplies, chaplain services, nurse visits, home health, medical equipment, medications, counseling, and many more specialized care services provided through the hospice agency.
According to NHPCO, even though Medicare covers more than 80 percent of the average patient’s hospice expenses each year, 60 percent of Americans are dying without hospice care simply because the patient and their families are not educated about the resources that are available to them.
“My concern again is back to the patient,” Eno said. “Do you know you have a choice?”
For further information visit nhpco.org.
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