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November Brings Recognition to Two Programs: Hospice Care and Veterans

November Brings Recognition to Two Programs: Hospice Care and Veterans

November is National Hospice Care Month, a time to draw attention and raise awareness of this special kind of care.
The nation's hospice programs served more than 1.5 million people last year. Yet for every person that received hospice care, it is estimated that another individual would have benefited from the services of hospice but didn't get this compassionate care at the end of their lives.
Hospice is more than traditional health care. Hospice care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible. Hospice care combines the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support that families need most when facing the end of life.
Since it [hospice care] is a patient and family-centered approach, it can only be delivered through a team approach of professionals. The team typically includes nurses, certified nursing aides, social workers, chaplains, grief counselors, and volunteers. The team is comprised of experienced end-of-life care professionals who believe passionately in enhancing the quality of life for those nearing the end of their journey and for those who grieve. Likewise, they understand that everyone has a right to dignity and choice!
In 2006, Hospice of Washington County, Inc. (HWC) provided hospice care for 561 residents of
Washington County and support for multitudes of family members and caregivers. Although the largest percentage of patients in the county are covered through Medicare, some receive hospice services through Medicaid or private pay insurance. Everyone will receive care regardless if they have coverage or not.
Individuals eligible for hospice care may receive it in their home, nursing care facility, or assisted living community. In fact, nearly half of the patients served by HWC reside in some type of care facility with the others remaining at home or living with a relative.
When nearing the end of life's journey, people experience a wide range of emotions, which may reflect sadness, denial, anger and despair. Most are frightened, overwhelmed and unsure of what to expect or where to turn. At HWC, the compassionate professionals understand the feelings and emotions associated with these trying times.
Honoring Our Veterans Even at the End of Life
Americans across the country also celebrated Veterans Day on November 11, a special day of awareness to help all Americans understand the values, commitment, and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. It is a time when we pay tribute to those who have served our country.
Who are these men and women? In Maryland, they are nearly 500,000 strong with an estimated 13,000 of those veterans calling Washington County home.
Most hospices provide care for veterans every day. Yet in many cases, the only time an agency knows they are caring for a veteran is if the person is enrolled in the VA health care system, in which only a quarter of all veterans are enrolled. Is estimated that 85% of veterans do not receive care through the VA health care system, which is the largest integrated health care system in the country.
Many of the veterans may be missing out on substantial health related benefits, especially those encountered during end of life. While the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers are experienced in caring for the complex needs of these men and women. Hospice care providers are experts in providing compassionate care to people living with life-limiting illness. Through an ongoing working partnership HWC and the Veterans Medical Center in Martinsburg and Outpatient Clinic in Hagerstown are trying to serve veterans living with a life-limiting illness.
Veterans, who are not currently registered, can learn more about the benefits that may be available for them through contacting the VA at 1-304-263-0811and asking for new patient registration. If veterans are registered, they may call the same number and ask for someone with eligibility of benefits. More information may also be obtained by visiting
If a person isn't facing decisions about care at the end of life for themselves or a family member, it's likely that a close friend, neighbor or coworker is struggling with these difficult issues. Anyone can inquire about hospice care through Hospice of Washington County at 301-791-6360


8 Key Points that Everyone Should Know

There are eight key messages about hospice care that everyone, healthcare professionals and consumers alike, should understand.
1. Hospice is a philosophy that promotes a special kind of care focusing on relief of pain, symptom control, and spiritual and emotional support. Care goes out to the patient and family caregivers.
2. The majority of hospice care takes place in the home, where the person can be surrounded by family and familiar settings. Yet hospice services can also be provided to those living in nursing facilities or assisted living communities. Some patients may receive inpatient services at the hospital if symptoms should need attention beyond what can be delivered at home.
3. Hospice costs are covered by Medicare, Medicaid in most states, and by most insurance programs and HMOs.
4. The expenses of all medicines related to the life-limiting illness, medical equipment, and oxygen are covered under the Medicare Hospice Benefit.
5. Hospice is not about "giving up" but instead focuses on "living" through providing quality of life based upon the wishes of the patient and family caregivers.
6. Hospice provides family and caregiver support through training, encouraging, and listening so family and caregiver feel more at ease with performing some of the daily care for their loved one in the home.
7. Bereavement support is available to families for 13 months after the death of their loved one.
8. The most common statement made by families who chose hospice for their loved one is, "we wish we had known about hospice sooner."

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