Sunday, November 1, 2009

November is National Hospice Month.

From FosterFollyNews:

November is National Hospice Month and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization marks the 26th anniversary of National Hospice Month by reporting that more than 950,000 dying Americans received care from the nation’s 3,300 hospice providers last year.

This represents an increase of 22 percent since 2001. The median length of service for a hospice patient has risen from 20.5 days to 22 days over the same two year period.

“Patients and families are becoming better advocates for their own health care and the medical community increasingly is recognizing the value of hospice when dealing with a life-limiting illness,” remarked J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “It gratifying to see more and more people understand what hospice providers have known for many years—that compassionate, high quality care for the dying and their families is available.”

“Most people think hospice is what you do when there’s nothing left to do,” Schumacher continued. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Hospice provides a wide range of services to the family and patient that maximize quality of life and help people live as fully as possible, on their terms.”

Hospice uses an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals and trained volunteers to provide pain-management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients, and their families. While a patient must have an expected prognosis of six months or less, hospice care can be provided for six months or longer, depending on the course of the illness. Many Americans do not understand this and wait unnecessarily before seeking care.

Hospice is a covered benefit under Medicare, Medicaid in most states, and most private insurance plans and HMOs.

Additional information about hospice and palliative care, including downloadable brochures for consumers is available at,, or call the NHPCO HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.


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