Carolinas HealthCare System
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hospice of Union County's mission?

Hospice is a special kind of caring that helps people fill their last days with dignity and comfort instead of pain. Hospice care can take place at a home, in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or at one of our two hospice houses. Patients are provided with the physical, social, emotional and spiritual support that's right for them. We adhere to the hospice philosophy, which is built on the principles of patient comfort, dignity, choice and control.

Is hospice just for cancer patients?

No. Hospice is designed for patients with any terminal illness.

What services are offered?

Hospice care involves much more than emotional support and "hand holding." Although we hold a lot of hands and hug a lot of people, we provide complete medical care. Our nurses, home health aides, residential caregivers, social workers, chaplain and volunteers contribute to a highly-specialized interdisciplinary team. We specialize in pain as symptom management for the patient as well as counseling and meeting the needs of the entire family.

Is hospice the same as home health care?

While both care for sick people, only hospice provides specialized care for the terminally ill patient and the patient's family. Our nurses are trained in pain management and work with the patient's doctor to control symptoms.

What are hospice residential facilities?

Often the patient cannot remain at home because he/she lives alone and has no one to serve as caregiver. A caregiver may be elderly and unable to care for the patient or they may have to work to maintain the family's income. These situations prevent the caregiver from performing a dual role. Hospice of Union County believes it is important to provide a caring and compassionate environment for these patients. Our McWhorter Hospice House provides a home-like setting without the restrictions of institutional care. Children and pets are welcome. The patient's meals are served when they want to eat and the family visits when it's convenient, including staying overnight if they desire.

How important is early referral?

An early referral is very important. The longer your relationship with hospice, the more effective we can be. Too often we are called in the very last days of life when the patient is near death and the family is exhausted and overwhelmed. When referral is this late, both the patient and the family have lost many opportunities for a better end-of-life experience.

When is the best time to begin hospice care?

Hospice is designed for the terminally ill patient with a life expectancy of six months or less. At that time hospice should be called in. Six months can give the patient and family time to adjust to the limited life expectancy and to work with the staff to work on resolving medical, financial, legal or family issues. This also gives the patient and family time to build a relationship of trust with the hospice staff and volunteers that will sustain them through this difficult time.

Do Medicare and Medicaid pay for hospice care?

Yes, and the reimbursement we receive from Medicare and Medicaid pays all the costs for covered hospice services, including the cost of medications related to the patient's hospice diagnosis and durable medical equipment such as electric beds, walkers and wheelchairs.

Room and board charges in the hospice house are not covered by Medicare and Medicaid but may be covered by private insurance. Some private insurance policies have a hospice benefit that covers the charges less a deductible and co-insurance. Please feel free to contact our patient account representative, April Baucom, at 704-292-2131 if you have any questions regarding your insurance.

How do I obtain more information about Hospice of Union County?

Call us at 704-292-2100 or contact your physician.

What happens after a physician makes a referral to Hospice of Union County?

The Hospice admissions coordinator schedules an appointment with the patient and patient's caregiver.

How often do nurse and other staff members visit the patient?

One of our registered nurses will visit at least once a week. These visits, approximately one hour long, will be used to check vital signs, administer medications and discuss symptoms and any other patient and family concerns. More frequent visits are made, if needed. Other team members, including social workers, volunteers, nursing assistants, grief counselors and chaplains will make regular or periodic visits, depending on the unique care plan developed for each patient. Many of these visits are on a regularly scheduled weekly basis. More frequent visits can always be arranged as patient and family needs dictate.

Are hospice services available after hours?

Yes. We are on-call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Our nurses can answer questions by phone on nights and weekends and can respond to a call for help within minutes. We also have other staff members available, including chaplains and social workers, when emergency support is needed.

How are the patient's personal care needs taken care of?

We have certified in-home health aides to assist with a patient's personal care such as bathing, skin, mouth and hair care.

What services does the social worker provide to the patient and family?

Our social workers provide counseling and support to the patient and their family during the time of hospice care. Support may include identification of community resources, addressing financial concerns and emotional issues that may arise during this time of stress for the patient and family.

What type of spiritual care is provided?

The hospice chaplain provides care for the patient and family by assisting them to find spiritual comfort and strength that is consistent with their own values and beliefs.

What happens if the hospice patient needs to be hospitalized?

Hospice medical staff will coordinate the move to the hospital and maintain communication with the patient and the patient's physician during his or her stay at the hospital.

Does Hospice of Union County only provide services in a person's home?

No. Hospice services also are provided in nursing homes, assisted living residences and retirement communities as well as our two hospice houses.

What communities does Hospice of Union County serve?

Hospice of Union County serves the residents of Union, Anson, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Stanly counties in North Carolina.

What happens if a hospice patient lives longer than six months?

When a patient's disease or illness follows its normal course and no curative treatment is provided, life expectancy is usually six months or less. Patient will not be discharged from hospice care if they exceed the six month timeframe. Care will continue as long as the patient is able to fulfill the criteria for receiving care.

What does "palliative" care mean?

Palliative care is the active total care of patients whose disease is not responding to curative treatment. Control of pain and addressing emotional, social and spiritual issues of the patient is paramount in palliative care.

What is a "Do Not Resuscitate Order" (DNR)?

A "Do Not Resuscitate" order can be given in the event that breathing or heartbeat stops. This means there will be no attempts at assisted ventilation or external cardiac massage. A DNR must be signed by a physician and the patient must have a terminal diagnosis.

How do volunteers assist Hospice of Union County?

Our volunteers are the heart of our hospice care. Click on the "Volunteer" sections of our website to obtain more information or complete the on-line application to begin the process of becoming a Hospice of Union County volunteer.

How are Hospice of Union County services funded?

Many of our hospice services are covered by Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements as well as private insurance. Individuals on Medicare and Medicaid may be eligible for a special hospice benefit. In addition, donations and community fund raising are other methods to gain financial support for services that hospice provides.

What happens if a person does not have coverage for hospice services?

If insurance doesn't cover the cost of services, payment is based upon the patient's or their family's ability to pay. Anyone eligible for hospice care is not denied service because of an inability to pay.

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