Question: What is hospice?
Answer: Hospice offers palliative care for terminally ill patients who seek comfort rather than cure.  Hospice offers a team of trained individuals to support the patient and their family with their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Question: What is Palliative Care?

Answer:  The goal of palliative care is to ensure that the patient is as pain and symptom-free as possible.  The patient’s medical needs are card for by professional nursing personnel and certified nursing assistants under the direction of the patient’s personal physician.  Social and psychological needs are attended to by social work professionals, while volunteers supplement these activities with the patient’s family.  Spiritual needs are addressed when requested by the patients and are dealt with through the minister of choice, or by the Hospice Chaplain.  Working as a team, these professionals, along with the patient’s primary caregiver, work to assure that the patient receives the proper care and achieves the best possible quality of life.

  What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?
Answer:  Palliative care is for anyone with serious illness.  You can have it at any age and any stage of an illness, and you can have it along with curative treatment.  It is not dependent on prognosis.  Hospice is an important Medicare benefit that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients who may have only months to live.  People who receive hospice are also no longer receiving curative treatment for their underlying disease.

Question:  Who can receive hospice?
Answer:  Any person facing the advancing stages of any terminal illness is eligible for palliative care.  Hospice care is appropriate when the physician thinks that the patient will live six months or less, aggressive treatments are no longer appropriate, and the patient, family and physician agree that the focus should be placed on pain management and symptom control, not cure.

Question: When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Answer: NOW is the best time to learn more about Hospice of McAlester and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services.  Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern.  This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed.  By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations.  Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones.  Feel free to click on the button below to request more information on the services provided by Hospice of McAlester.

Question:  How does hospice care begin?
Answer:  Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a “referral” is made by the patient’s doctor.  Often a hospice program representative will make an effort to visit the patient within 48 hours of that referral, providing the visit meets the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver.  Usually, hospice care is ready to begin within a day or two of the referral.  However, in urgent situations, hospice services may begin sooner.

Question:  Where is hospice care provided?
Answer: Hospice is not a place, it is a philosophy of care.  Most hospice patients receive care in their home or the home of their caregiver.  Hospice care can also be provided in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, hospitals or nursing homes.

Question:  How does hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
Answer:  Many patients may have pain and others serious symptoms as illness progresses.  Hospice staff receives special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort and distress.  Because keeping the patient comfortable and pain-free is an important part of hospice care, staff works with the patient’s physician to make sure that medication, therapies, and procedures are designed to achieve the goals outlined in the patient’s care plan.  The care plan is reviewed frequently to make sure any changes and new goals are in the plan.

Question:  What is hospice’s success rate in battling pain?
Answer:  Very High!  Using some combination of medications, counseling and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort they consider acceptable.  Hospice of McAlester staff assesses patient pain levels consistently during visits and through contact with patient caregivers, and adjusts medications as needed to ensure the patient’s pain levels are under control.

Question:  Does Hospice of McAlester do anything to make death come sooner?
Answer:  Hospice of McAlester staff neither hastens nor postpones dying.  Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, our hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Question:  Does Hospice of McAlester provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
Answer:  Yes.  Hospice of McAlester will remain in contact through personal contact, phone calls and/or mailings for at least 13-months following the patient’s death.  This contact is part of the bereavement program at Hospice of McAlester, and includes a Bereavement Support Group meeting held on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Hospice of McAlester office.  Participation in the bereavement process is voluntary, and family, friends and loved-ones are welcome to participate at their own pace.

Question:  Is Hospice of McAlester staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
Answer:  Yes.  Hospice of McAlester staff is on call 24 hours a day.  Hospice staff, including nursing staff, nurse aides, social workers, and chaplains are scheduled to visit patients frequently to identify needs and assess patient comfort levels.  The frequency of visits is identified in the care plan, and can increase or decrease based on patient/family needs or desires.

Question:  What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?
Answer:  Hospice patients are cared for by a team consisting of a physician, a nurse, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapist and volunteers.  Each one provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise.  In addition, hospices provide medications, supplies, equipment, and other services related to the terminal illness.

Question:  Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?
Answer:  Hospice of McAlester will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment.  Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the disease progresses.  In general, hospice will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, clean and safe as possible.

Question: Who pays for hospice?
Answer:  Hospice of McAlester is a Medicare certified hospice, so Medicare will pay for patients with Medicare benefits.  In addition, most insurers and HMO’s cover costs for hospice care.  If you have private insurance, it is wise to confirm that your policy covers hospice services.  However, unlike some of the service area for-profit hospice providers, at Hospice of McAlester, NO patient is ever denied services based on his or her ability to pay.  As a nonprofit organization, Hospice of McAlester cares for every patient equally, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance coverage.  

Question: What is an Advanced Directive?
Answer:  Oklahoma’s Advance Directive for Health Care allows you, if you are 18 years of age or older, to inform physicians and others of your wishes to provide, decline or withdraw life-sustaining medical care and to donate specified organs when you have been diagnosed by your attending physician and another physician to be in a terminal condition, a persistently unconscious state, or an end-stage condition.  The Advance Directive also allows you to appoint a Health Care Proxy to make certain decisions on your behalf.  After you complete the Advance Directive, you may revoke it in whole or in part at any time and in any manner, without regard to your mental or physical condition.  A revocation is effective upon your communication to your attending physician or other care provider or a witness to the revocation.  If you signed a Directive to Physicians or other Advance Directive for Health Care under Oklahoma law prior to 2006, it is recommended that you complete a new Advance Directive because of additional options under the existing law.