News of former Senator George McGovern’s failing health, and the announcement of his death this morning, has brought the healthcare resource of hospice into the spotlight. According to a statement by the McGovern Family, he “…passed away peacefully…” at a hospice house in South Dakota surrounded by family and friends. Although initial news reports stated that McGovern entered hospice when he was “unresponsive,” the benefits of receiving hospice care can be realized prior to patient’s imminent passing.
Hospice care is a great healthcare resource to patients and families dealing with end-of-life issues. It involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. The goal is to help the patient and the patient’s family members live the best quality of life possible, for as long as life lasts – whether that’s days, weeks, or months.
According to one local family, hospice care was essential in helping the patient get the physical care needed, as well as provide emotional support, comfort and guidance for the family members during the patient’s illness and beyond.
“San Diego Hospice enabled Susan to be a devoted mother as long as she lived,” said Craig Y., husband of Susan. “They provided me the courage to move forward as a loving husband and father through the end of Susan’s life and into the life that the children and I have ahead of us.”
Hospice care is provided by a team of healthcare professionals all working together with the patient, the patient’s physician, and the patient’s family members. The team makes intermittent visits to a patient’s home - or anywhere a patient calls “home” - such as nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. And hospice care is very affordable, as it is covered under Medicare, Medi-Cal (Medicaid), most private insurance plans, and HMOs.
Are all hospices the same?
It’s important to know that not all hospices are the same. Although the philosophy of hospice care is similar among service providers, hospice programs can differ in the services and treatments that are offered to patients and their family members – even among hospice programs in the same community. Currently, there are approximately 23 different hospice programs in San Diego County, all independent of each other, and operating as either a for-profit or not-for-profit organization. For example, San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine is the original not-for-profit hospice program serving San Diego County since 1977, and considered the most comprehensive hospice and palliative care program for adults and children in the region.
You have a choice.
In most cases, individuals can choose which hospice program to receive services from and can let their doctor know which hospice program they would like to receive services from. Organizations like the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provide an online directory to locate a member hospice program in your area. You can also ask your doctor or healthcare provider about what hospice programs are available.
It is understandable that hospice care is a difficult subject to discuss. And because of the myths and misconceptions surrounding hospice care, many think of hospice as giving up hope. For the thousands of patients and families who have received hospice care, they share that hospice can help redefine hope. Programs like San Diego Hospice can offer:
- hope that a secure, familiar care setting can be enjoyed.
- hope for freedom from fears of isolation, abandonment, loneliness, loss of control and physical pain.
- hope that the family will be nurtured and supported, even after the death of the patient, through bereavement services.
Photo source: Boston.com