Hospice FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is hospice?

Hospice is a philosophy of high-quality, compassionate care for anyone of any age who has a life-limiting illness and does not want any more curative treatment. It provides dignity, choice and comfort so what remains of life can be lived to its fullest. Hospice care also provides a great deal of support for family members in the form of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is designed to maximize the quality of life for patients with advanced or life-limiting illness. Hospice is a form of palliative care, but hospice is for those who don’t want to continue curative treatment. At Hospice Atlanta, our palliative care is called the Advanced Illness Management (AIM) program and it combines active and compassionate therapies to compliment the patient’s medical care.

Where does hospice care take place?

Most hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, even if that is an assisted living or nursing home. Hospice Atlanta Center is our home-like inpatient facility for patients needing more intense care.

When is the right time to involve hospice?

It is always the family’s choice, but the right time may be when the patient’s prognosis is life-limiting (six months or less) and the patient is ready to stop curative treatment.

How does one start hospice care?

Call us at (404) 869-3000. We will work with the patient’s physician to confirm hospice care is appropriate at this time.

How much does hospice care cost?

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

What hospice services are covered under Medicare/Medicaid benefits?

These benefits cover most everything:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Certified nursing assistants
  • Chaplains
  • Bereavement counselors
  • Medical equipment (hospital beds, oxygen, wheelchairs, etc.)
  • Medications for pain and symptom control
  • Other medications may also be covered

If the situation improves, can the patient leave hospice?

Of course. If the patient’s condition improves, they can return to their regular medical care. And the patient can return back to hospice, as well, as many times as necessary.

Can a hospice patient go to a hospital?

Yes. Patients always have the right to go to the hospital. But there is the possibility it will change the patient’s hospice status. In most cases, an emergency transfer to a hospital is not part of a hospice plan unless it is unrelated to the terminal diagnosis (e.g., a fractured hip, a blood clot). We would prefer that “acute care” takes place in our Hospice Atlanta Center. If the patient needs to go to the hospital, the hospice case manager should be immediately notified. The hospice team will work with the family to determining next steps in the plan of care.

Does hospice speed up dying?

Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the process of dying. Hospice care just manages symptoms and discomfort for the best quality of life and to minimize suffering.

What kind of pain management can hospice provide?

Hospice Atlanta nurses have access to and are experts in most state-of-the-art pain and symptom relief. And because an illness also brings on emotional and spiritual pain, we provide counselors and chaplains, as well.

Can the patient keep their regular physician when in hospice care?

Yes. Hospice is an extension of the regular medical care. We can also provide a medical doctor, if needed.

Does hospice support the family after the patient is gone?

Yes. Families and friends are supported for at least one year after a loved one’s passing and even longer than that if needed.

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