Bodnar: How hospice, palliative care help patients, families
By Regina Bodnar
Nov 28, 2018 at 11:00 AM
For many, there’s nothing as mysterious as the end of life. It’s a time that most of us don't want to think about for our loved ones or ourselves. Then, something happens — a shocking prognosis, a disease takes root, aging parents need extra care — and we face the reality of our mortality.
As National Hospice and Palliative Care month comes to an end, I’d like to share how each helps patients and families. While they are similar in many ways, they also have distinct differences.
Hospice and palliative care programs share the same core values being focused on a patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual comfort. Yet, there are pronounced differences as well.
Carroll Hospice is expanding the number of beds in its in-patient Dove House, a $3.5 million project. This year's Holiday Hope campaign, a partnership with the Carroll County Time, could help move that project forward.
Two of the main differences are who receives each type of care and when it can be given. Palliative care can be provided at any point along the health care continuum, and it is often provided to the chronically ill and frail elderly. When someone receives palliative care, they can also receive curative treatment. Hospice care is given to those believed to have a life expectancy of 6 months or less as certified by two physicians. Hospice care is focused on effectively managing symptoms and not the underlying disease; comfort is the priority.
At Carroll Hospice, one of our goals is to educate about the availability of hospice and palliative care services so that families reach out to us sooner when help is needed. Did you know that Medicare will pay for 6 months of hospice care for qualified individuals?
But that doesn’t mean that patients must die within those months to be eligible. Determining a prognosis is, at best, an imperfect science. Care can be provided beyond the 6-month mark if the patient’s clinical diagnosis continues to progress, and a patient’s prognosis is re-evaluated on an ongoing basis.
The Carroll Hospice annual veterans breakfast honored Carroll County veterans with Del. Susan Krebs and Gold Star Mothers Maryland Chapter President and Chaplain Janice Chance among speakers on Nov. 8 at the Carroll Hospital in Westminster.
Right now, our patients’ average length of stay is two months, and more than one-third of our patients (38 percent) are only in our care for one week or less. All too often families comment that they wished they’d known about us sooner so that they and their loved one could have received our specialized support longer.
In rare instances, some patients (4 percent) graduate from our program, meaning that they no longer qualify for hospice services because their prognosis has changed. If circumstances change, or you decide hospice or palliative care is not the right choice, services can be stopped at any time. It is your choice.
No matter what the situation, the team at Carroll Hospice is honored to provide quality end-of-life care specifically tailored to you and your family when you need us. If hospice is not the right service, we are committed to helping you find the care that is a better fit for your unique needs.