Most people think of hospice as a place for the terminally ill, fact is, Hospice is not a place, but a concept of care. More than 90% of the hospice services provided in this country are based in the home. Care provided in the home allows families to be together when they need it most sharing the final days in peace, comfort, and dignity. However, when home care is not an option, in-patient care can be available through a contracting hospital, skilled nursing facility, or the hospice's own in-patient facility (if available). In addition, in-patient care is available to those receiving home care in emergency situations or when family members need respite care. Below are more myths about hospice:

  • Hospice only serves persons diagnosed with cancer?
    Fact is: Although 71% of the patients who were admitted to hospice agencies in 1996 had conditions related to cancer, there were other frequent admission diagnoses. Those include: diseases of the circulatory system; infectious and parasitic diseases, which includes human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); diseases of the nervous system and sense organs, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, meningitis, etc.; and diseases of the respiratory system.

  • A patient needs Medicare or Medicaid to afford hospice services?
    Fact is: Although insurance coverage for hospice is available through Medicare and in 44 states under Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations include hospice care as a benefit. In addition, through community contributions, memorial donations, and foundation gifts, many hospices are able to provide patients who lack sufficient payment with free services. Other programs charge patients in accordance with their ability to pay.

  • A physician decides whether a patient should receive hospice care and which agency should provide that care?
    Fact is: The role of the physician is to recommend care, whether hospice or traditional curative care. It is the patient's right and decision to determine when hospice is appropriate and which program suits his or her needs. Before entering a hospice, however, a physician must certify that a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a life expectancy of six months or less.

  • Hospice services are very expensive because 24-hour on-call services are provided?
    Fact is: Generally hospice costs less than care in hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutional settings for one basic reason: in those facilities a patient is charged each day for all general services such as food services and basic medical supplies. With hospice a patient pays only for the services he or she or the family cannot provide and that are not covered by insurance. In 1997 the charges per hospital day were estimated at $2,121; $454 in a skilled nursing facility. In 1997 hospice care cost approximately $108 per covered day of care. It is also estimated that Medicare's hospice program saves $1.68 for every dollar spent for Part A benefits in the last month of life.

  • To be eligible for hospice care, a patient must already be bedridden?
    Fact is: Hospice care is appropriate at the time of the terminal prognosis, regardless of the patient's physical condition. Many of the patients served through hospice continue to lead productive and rewarding lives. Together, the patient, family, and physician determine when hospice services should begin.

  • After six months, patients are no longer eligible to receive hospice care through Medicare and other insurances?
    Fact is: According to the Medicare hospice program, services may be provided to terminally ill Medicare beneficiaries with a life expectancy of six months or less. However, if the patient lives beyond the initial six months, he or she can continue receiving hospice care as long as the attending physician recertifies that the patient is terminally ill. Medicare, Medicaid, and many other private and commercial insurances will continue to cover hospice services as long as the patient meets hospice criteria of having a terminal prognosis and is recertified with a limited life expectancy of six months or less.

  • Once a patient elects hospice, he or she can no longer receive care from the primary care physician?
    Fact is: Hospice reinforces the patient-primary physician relationship by advocating either office or home visits, according to the physician preference. Hospices work closely with the primary physician and consider the continuation of the patient-physician relationship to be of the highest priority.

  • Once a patient elects hospice care, he or she cannot return to traditional medical treatment?
    Fact is: Patients always have the right to reinstate traditional care at any time, for any reason. If a patient's condition improves, he or she can be discharged from a hospice and return to aggressive, curative measures, if so desired. If a discharged patient wants to return to hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies and HMOs will allow readmission.

  • Hospice means giving up hope?
    Fact is: When faced with a terminal illness, many patients and family members tend to dwell on the imminent loss of life rather than on making the most of the life that remains. Hospice helps patients reclaim the spirit of life. It helps them understand that even though death can lead to sadness, anger, and pain, it can also lead to opportunities for reminiscence, laughter, reunion, and hope-hope that hospice will enable a patient to live his or her life to its fullest.

Who is Harbor Hospice

Harbor Hospice is much more than a place. We are devoted to giving each family a gift when they need it most...quality of life for our patients when they are facing life's greatest challenge.

At Harbor Hospice our commitment to excellence is reflected in our core values. Conveying these values throughout the organization with excitement and passion by word and action is what drives us.

“The gift of hospice is its capacity to help families see how much can be shared at the end of life. It is no wonder that many families can look back upon their hospice experience with gratitude.”

- Naomi Naierman, CEO AHF