WHEN MOST PEOPLE hear the word “hospice,” they immediately associate the provided care as being intimately tied to hours, or if lucky, days before death. Then there is also the supposition that hospice is only for cancer patients. These are just two myths that need to be busted when it comes to understanding hospice.
Early this year, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine uncovered the fact that many individuals are referred late to hospice care. According to a leading expert in geriatrics and internal medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, the medical community uses “hospice (care) as a last resort. It’s something we do when people have gotten so bad that they can’t respond to any possible intervention.” But hospice care doesn’t have to be viewed in this manner. In fact, Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance will pay for hospice care as long as patients meet medical criteria. When it comes to the patients under our care at Good Shepherd Hospice, more than 62 percent have a primary diagnosis other than cancer. They have life-limiting diseases or conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, or dementia.
Another myth is that hospice care is only for the bedridden or very ill. Not true. Many Good Shepherd Hospice patients are able to enjoy life as much as they did before their diagnoses. This fact is especially true if care is accessed early in their illness. Our patients are seen by trained healthcare professionals who can address their medical conditions and support family members. Additionally, hospice care can include complementary therapies, such as pet visits and music therapy.
This column is sponsored by Good Shepherd Hospice. At Good Shepherd Hospice, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them as comfortable as possible in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call 1-800-544-3280 or visit us at chaptershealth.org/hospice.
column by DR. BRENDAN FLYNN
BIO: Board certified in Family Practice, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Dr. Brendan Flynn received his medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has been a staff physician with Good Shepherd Hospice, an affiliate of Chapters Health System, for more than six years.