The Top Doctors Specializing in HOSPICE/PALLIATIVE CARE
Updated as of November 16, 2023
Hospice is available to people living with an end-stage disease including cancer, pulmonary disease, ALS, heart disease, HIV-AIDS, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and any other life-threatening illness. Hospice care is available to patients who no longer wish treatment directed at curing their disease. The hospice benefit is flexible. Initially, a physician certifies that the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less, if the disease follows its normal course. The first two certifications are for 90 days each. Thereafter, the physician re-certifies eligibility every 60 days. As long as the patient is re-certified, he/she remains eligible for hospice, even when it exceeds six months. Programs are available for adults, children and infants. When cure is no longer a real possibility, hospice focuses on and treats the person, not the disease. A primary goal is to control pain and other symptoms so the patient can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice includes all of the services needed to manage an individual’s medical care and also provides emotional and spiritual support for the whole family. Hospice stresses quality of life and is an alternative to extended medical or curative treatments. Many people actually live longer under hospice because their symptoms are managed and treated based on their unique needs and preferences. Individuals are usually referred to hospice by their personal physician, although individuals can be referred by their families or even by themselves. Hospice usually begins within 48 hours after a referral, and can begin sooner based on the circumstances. The hospice nurse evaluates what the person and family needs and develops a plan of care. The plan addresses the entire family’s needs: medical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and support services. The nurse then coordinates the care with a physician and the full team of health professionals. Under the direction of a physician, hospice provides an all-inclusive set of services needed to manage all of a person’s symptoms and complications. Medical care is given, symptom relief is provided, and the patient and family receive the support and understanding they need. Services are provided by a coordinated team that draws upon many different kinds of professionals who provide medical care and support services. The team also ensures that services and resources are available and provided when needed, without the family having to locate and arrange for them. When staying at home, family and friends are encouraged to participate in the patient’s care as much as possible. When someone doesn’t have family who can serve as caregivers the team may be able to help identify friends and people in the community who volunteer to help. The hospice team remains available for help and support to the patient and family.