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Hospice Care: The Myths and Realities
By Mark Katich

Every culture and every community has its own set of myths and fears about terminal illness and the dying process. One of the challenges that all hospice caregivers face is to help dispel those myths and reassure patients and families about the realities of effective end-of-life care.

Consider these mistaken notions about hospice care…the realities offer hope in place of sadness:

Myth: Hospice is a place.
Reality: Hospice isn't a place. It's the treatment of physical and emotional pain and symptoms at the end of life, and this care is provided wherever our patients are located. In fact, most terminally ill patients choose to remain in their homes, in comfortable and familiar surroundings, accompanied by family and friends. Whether they live at home, in an adult living community or a nursing home, people want to age – and die – in place.

Myth: Hospice means giving up.
Reality: Hospice care is about life, some of the most important moments in life. Hospice aims to make life as comfortable, enjoyable and meaningful as possible. It is a total change of focus – putting patients in control and helping them make choices about their own care.

Hospice care is provided by highly skilled, interdisciplinary teams of palliative care experts, including physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement specialists and volunteers.

Myth: Hospice care is only for the very old.
Reality: People of all ages face death. Whether a patient is young or old, hospice care is customized to meet the patient's individual needs, focusing on comfort and dignity for the patient and support for loved ones.

Myth: Hospice care is expensive.
Reality: Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. In most cases, the coverage is all-inclusive and covers 100 percent of the cost of hospice care. There are no deductibles and no out-of-pocket expenses to patients or their loved ones. Just as important, VITAS provides care to all hospice-eligible patients, regardless of their ability to pay for the services.

Mark Katich is General Manager, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Pittsburgh. For more information about hospice, contact VITAS at (412) 799-2101 or visit www.VITAS.com.

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