Hospice Myths

  • Hospice care is very expensive.
    Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances. Augusta Health offers a financial assistance program for patients that qualify and are unable to pay for services.
  • Hospice is only for people with cancer.
    Hospice is provided to any patient with a life-limiting illness when a physician states that their condition qualifies them for care. Some diseases commonly seen in hospice aside from cancer are lung disease, heart disease, dementia and kidney failure.
  • Morphine hastens death and many patients become addicted.
    Morphine neither hastens nor postpones the natural death process. It is often used for pain management and/or difficulty breathing once those symptoms present themselves. Like other medications, it is started slow and adjusted as needed for comfort.
  • By choosing hospice, a person is giving up hope.
    By choosing hospice, a patient is affirming to live life to the fullest and considers dying as a natural process. Studies have shown that patients who choose hospice typically live longer than patients who don’t choose hospice with the same terminal disease. Many patients also live well beyond their prognosis once entering hospice care. At any point that a patient’s condition may improve and they no longer meet hospice criteria, a discharge plan is quickly and easily implemented.
  • Once you choose hospice, you cannot change your mind.
    Hospice is not a permanent decision. At any point that a patient wishes to pursue further treatment or a physician recommends further treatment, a patient can opt out of our service. You can leave and come back to hospice an indefinite number of times.
  • Hospice is a place you go to die.
    Hospice is not a place but a service that brings compassionate, end-of-life care to the patient, wherever they call home. The majority of our service is provided at the patient’s personal residence.
  • Hospice provides 24 hour care.
    Hospice makes nursing services available 24/7, 365 days a year but does not routinely provide 24 hour care. Hospice provides qualified professionals that bring care to the patient’s home. Patients receive regular visits from their nurse Care Manager, their Social Worker as well as other members of our team that are accepted. If a patient needs 24 hour care, the Social Worker will assist with options that are available but they are not provided by hospice.
  • Hospice comes in and gives medication and people die.
    Hospice is about comfort and quality of life. Medication to assist with uncontrolled symptoms and/or comfort care is part of the service that hospice provides. Medication is left in the home with education provided by the patient’s Care Manager but it is ultimately the patient and family’s decision whether or not to use it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does having hospice mean all medical treatment must be discontinued?
    When a patient elects to receive hospice care, they are agreeing to discontinue any curative treatment related to their terminal diagnosis. That does not mean that all medical treatment must stop. For instance if a patient is admitted with lung cancer but wishes to continue treatment for diabetes, that is acceptable. However continuing to treat the cancer with chemotherapy would not be.
  • Aren’t all hospices the same, offering the same services?
    All hospices are not the same! While most hospices have a similar philosophy and ultimately provide end-of-life care, there can be many differences. Those differences can include levels of care offered, services provided, service locations, accreditation standards, quality of and access to care provided, skill and qualifications of staff, and profit status to name a few. Many hospices are for profit but at Augusta Health, we are proud to be one of the few existing local hospices that remains not-for-profit, allowing us to offer more services and resources to our patients, families and community.
  • Do I have to give up my primary care physician?
    Your primary care physician will remain in charge of your hospice care and will be a part of our interdisciplinary team unless you choose otherwise.
  • Is hospice only for patients that are old and close to dying?
    Augusta Health Hospice of the Shenandoah treats patients of all ages, not just the elderly. The sooner a patient/family accepts hospice, the sooner they reap the benefits of all the care and support provided. We often hear that patients and families wish they would have accepted the care of hospice sooner.
  • Do hospice patients have to be homebound?
    No, hospice is about living and we want our patients to do anything and everything they wish to for as long as they are comfortable and safe in doing so.