Hospice & Palliative Care

Frequently Asked Questions

Hospice care is specifically for people with life-limiting illnesses. It might be the right time to call about hospice services if your physician has said the prognosis is life-limiting (six months or less) and you are ready to stop aggressive, curative treatment.

Palliative care delivers comprehensive care and support to patients with a life-limiting illness. While hospice is the most prevalent form of palliative care, many patients are not ready or medically appropriate to take that step and prefer to continue curative treatment. Palliative care can help to improve quality of life and assist with management of bothersome symptoms related to the illness.

A phone call to the Visiting Nurse Health System or Hospice Atlanta is all that is needed to begin the admission process. Our staff will contact your physician for confirmation that hospice care is appropriate at this time. Call us at 404-869-3000.

Hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance.

Covered services include those provided by physicians, nurses, social workers, certified nursing assistants, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement counselors.

Home medical equipment, such as a hospital bed, oxygen, bedside commode or wheelchair, if needed, is also covered.

Medications for pain and symptom control (e.g., anti-nausea medications, anti-itching medications) are covered, and medication related to your terminal diagnosis may be covered.

Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on maintaining the dignity and the comfort of the patient and supporting the family. Most hospice patients are cared for in their homes. Some are cared for in assisted living communities or skilled nursing facilities. Hospice Atlanta Center is our inpatient facility for patients whose symptoms can’t be managed at home.

Certainly. If your condition improves, you can be discharged from hospice and return to getting regular treatment. If you want to return to hospice, that’s also okay. Medicare allows patients to go on and off hospice as needed.

Yes, you maintain the right to go to the hospital. There is the possibility that your status while receiving hospice care may change. In most cases, an emergency transfer to a hospital is not part of a hospice plan of care unless it is unrelated to your terminal diagnosis (e.g., a fractured hip, blood clot to the leg). We normally prefer that you be transferred to the hospice center for “acute care” related to the terminal illness. If you need to go to the hospital, your caregiver should notify your hospice case manager immediately. The hospice team will work with your caregiver to determine the next steps regarding the plan of care.

Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. The goals of hospice care are to maximize quality of life; hospice care ensures that symptoms — whether pain, nausea or confusion — are well managed, and minimize suffering during the later stages of the illness. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of childbirth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the natural dying process.

 Visiting Nurse Health System’s or Hospice Atlanta’s nurses and doctors are experts on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. We believe that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain. Counselors, including chaplains, are available to assist you and your loved ones. With a combination of medications, therapies and counseling, most people can attain an acceptable level of comfort.

Yes, Visiting Nurse Health System or Hospice Atlanta functions as an extension of, not in place of, your attending physician. We also have medical directors available to help patients who have no physicians.

Visiting Nurse Health System or Hospice Atlanta provides continuing contact and support for family and friends for at least a year following the death of a loved one and additional support as needed.