Frequently Asked Questions
Who pays for Hospice services?
Hospice services are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, and some private health insurance policies. Additionally, HRC is contracted with United Healthcare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, MedCost, and Cigna. However, Hospice care is available regardless of a patient’s ability or inability to pay. In order for Hospice to receive third party reimbursement, a fee must be charged for services (skilled nursing visits, social work visits, and supplies) that are routinely reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance carriers. Hospice is required to send statements for services rendered but there will be no pressure exerted on those families who are not able to pay. Services will in no way be diminished or altered because of a family’s inability to pay.
Hospice funding to help offset the cost of uninsured patient care is provided through contributions from churches, memorials, private donations, fundraisers, and the United Way of Rockingham County.
What does Medicare Cover?
When a Medicare-eligible patient receives services from a Medicare-approved hospice, Medicare pays nearly all of the cost of hospice services, including:
Who can make a referral?
Anyone. While the majority of HRC’s referrals come from the medical community in some capacity-the patient’s physician, nurse, discharge planner in a hospital, medical social worker at a nursing home, etc., the initial contact does not have to come from the physician. HRC receives referrals from patients’ family members, friends and neighbors, and occasionally patients call in the referral themselves. HRC will verify with the patient’s physician that they meet the necessary criteria but the initial contact does not have to come from the physician. To make a referral, please call the Hospice office at (336) 427-9022.
Do I have to wait until my doctor mentions Hospice before I discuss it with him/her?
No. As an informed healthcare consumer, you are perfectly within your rights to explore healthcare options and to ask your physician whether or not Hospice care would be appropriate for you. Patients and families should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy, or friends.
Should I call Hospice sooner rather than later?
Absolutely. Families, caregivers, and patients often tell us they wish they had called Hospice of Rockingham County sooner. Frequently people operate on the misconception that hospice care is only for those in the last days of their lives. Truth is, when someone receives a life-limiting prognosis (i.e. six months or less, as certified by their physician), the sooner they are admitted to Hospice, the better it is for the patient and their caregiver. The longer a patient is in the Hospice program, the more time they have to utilize all the services we offer. With earlier referrals & admissions, we can begin pain management and symptom control measures sooner, thereby making the patient more comfortable. There is also more time for the patient and caregiver to utilize all available support services – social workers, chaplains, & volunteers.
If a hospice referral is suggested, may I request Hospice of Rockingham County?
Absolutely. While there are several other hospices marketing in and around Rockingham County, patients and caregivers most certainly have the right to their choice of providers. Should another hospice be suggested, you may simply request that you or your loved one be referred to Hospice of Rockingham County.
Hospice of Rockingham County is the only full-service, nonprofit hospice located in the county. Because our staff live in the area, our response time to after-hours calls is very prompt. When calling our on-call number, you can expect to receive a return call within approximately 10 minutes; if an after-hours visit needs to made, you can expect our on-call nurse to typically arrive in an hour or less. Additionally, HRC is contracted with a local pharmacy for our patients’ medication needs as well as with a local supplier for medical equipment. HRC is a firm believer in the concept of local working with, and caring for, local.
Is Hospice of Rockingham County a cancer organization?
No. This is probably the most common misconception about hospice care. While approximately half of the diagnoses seen at HRC are malignancies of some type, this is not a requirement to be in the Hospice program. Hospice care is for anyone with a life-limiting illness and HRC sees patients with many different illnesses including end-stage heart, pulmonary, kidney, and liver disease, and ALS, to name a few.
Is there an age requirement to be a Hospice patient?
No. While many of HRC’s patients are older, there is no age requirement for Hospice services. HRC has served patients ranging in age from a few weeks old to more than 100 years old.
How difficult is caring for a dying loved one at home?
It is never easy and sometimes can be rather difficult. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can be very long, lonely and scary. So, HRC has staff available around the clock to consult with the family and to make night visits as appropriate.
How does Hospice “manage pain”?
Hospice nurses and doctors are up-to-date on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists assist patients to be as mobile and self-sufficient as possible. Hospice also believes thatemotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so we address these, as well. Chaplains & Bereavement Coordinators are available to assist family members as well as patients.
What is Hospice’s success rate in battling pain?
Very high. Using some combination of medications, counseling, and therapies, most patients can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
Does Hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Absolutely not. Hospice of Rockingham County does nothing to either speed up or to slow down the dying process. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, so Hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
Does Hospice provide any support after the patient dies?
Yes. One of the unique aspects of hospice care is the follow-up program. Hospice follows up with a patient’s family for a full year after the patient’s death. Support groups are offered on a regular basis, and one-on-one counseling is available as well. Hospice of Rockingham County’s grief and bereavement services are offered at no charge and are available to anyone in the community in need of support, regardless of whether or not they’ve had a loved one in our program. If you need to speak with one of our chaplains, please call (336) 427-9022. Click here to visit the Spiritual Services section on our Upcoming Events page.
Is Hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
No. Hospice care is not an off-shoot of any religion. While some religious organizations have started hospices (sometimes in conjunction with their hospitals), Hospice of Rockingham County serves a broad community and does not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.
(Some of the questions above have been adapted from “20 Commonly Asked Questions” published by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.)
How is Hospice care different from home health care?
The Hospice Benefit is an excellent choice for Medicare/Medicaid eligible patients facing a life-limiting illness. Terminally ill patients’ needs in the last few months of life can be vastly different from those patients recovering from an acute illness and who have a greater hope of rehabilitation and recovery.
Hospice of Rockingham County greatly respects and appreciates the role home health programs play in local residents’ acute healthcare. However, HRC believes when patients receive a terminal diagnosis and the focus shifts from curing to comforting and caring, they and their caregivers need the unique end-of-life care and support hospice care provides.
The chart below illustrates a few reasons why specialized care from Hospice of Rockingham County is the better choice for terminally ill patients and their caregivers under Medicare/Medicaid:
|Benefit to Patient||Hospice of Rockingham County||Home Health|
|Prescription medications related to terminal illness||100% covered||0% covered|
|Durable medical equipment related to terminal illness||100% covered||80% covered|
|Social Work/Counseling||Covered for patients and caregivers||Covered for patient only|
|Volunteers for Patients & Caregivers||INCLUDED||NOT included|
|Bereavement Care (for up to one year following patient’s death)||INCLUDED||NOT included|
|Chaplain/Spiritual Support||INCLUDED||NOT included|
|Services to Nursing Home Residents||INCLUDED (in contracted facilities)||NOT included|
|Location of Services Provided||Patient’s Home, Hospice Home, Assisted Living, Group Home, or Long-Term Care Facility||Patient’s Home, Assisted Living, or Group Home|