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Understanding Hospice

We all know the numbers 9-1-1. We know how the 911 dispatcher can coordinate police, fire, and rescue services in life and death situations. We know to dial 911 just in case, but we all dread the idea of needing to make that call to save ourselves or a loved one. Just like no one ever wants to dial 911, few seek to learn about hospice, and few know much about it.

The reality is that both patients and those around them benefit from hospice. Hospice is defined as health-care service for the terminally ill that emphasizes pain control and emotional support for the patient and family, typically refraining from taking extraordinary measures to prolong life. For example, a patient may battle a disease, and at some point in the treatment of the disease the medical team determines that the disease will take the patient's life within six months. At that point, the medical team changes its strategy from battling the disease to focusing on the patient's comfort and enjoyment of life.

Hospice is an entitlement program under Medicare for those 65 and older who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and given six months to live. Hospice services are available for all ages, but Medicare only pays for treatment of those 65 and older. For those younger than 65, many health care plans cover varying forms of hospice services.

People with end-stage dementia, cardiac, lung or renal disease should consider hospice care. Each person is evaluated individually and care is directed towards the patient's specific needs. Hospice care is not just for the final days of life. Hospice care is of importance for the last six months of life to provide a time of preparation for the patient and their loved ones, empowerment, comfort and transition from life to death.

'It is important to note that hospice is a choice made by the patient to transition from curative care to comfort care,' stresses Dr. Rick Baxter of St. Luke's Hospital Hospice and Palliative Care program in Allentown Pennsylvania. 'Medicare has set up hospice to be a global service, so the patient doesn't need to worry about getting a hospital bed or medication, but it's the responsibility of the hospice team to handle all that.'

When the attending physician determines that hospice care is necessary, the physician, patient, family, and hospice team discuss and lay out a care plan for the patient to get the most out of his remaining time. This includes the patients' goals for the end of life. The team includes nurses, case managers, social workers, bereavement counselors, physical therapists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists.

Care is given to the hospice patient as needed and can be provided anywhere, but most commonly in a nursing facility, senior living community, or at home. At Legacy Place we support all our residents with hospice support as needed.

We invite you to ask questions. We wholeheartedly encourage you to come for a tour and to meet our staff. Legacy Place Cottages is located at 2051 Bevin Drive, Allentown, PA 18103.


 Our Phone Number: 484.860.3900

 Our Email Address: Information@LegacyPlace.org

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