What is hospice?

The Hospice benefit may be elected when a physician certifies a patient to be terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less. Choosing hospice is a decision to focus on comfort rather than aggressive treatment at the end of one’s life. At St. Barnabas Hospice, our mission is to support the patient physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as attending to the needs of the patient’s family. Our team of professionals and volunteers will help prepare them for the final days to come.

How can hospice care help?

Hospice care eases the burden placed on families and caretakers, giving them the peace of mind that their loved one will be taken care of by a staff that is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Members of the hospice care team routinely visit during the week, assisting with patient care as well as educating the family on what to expect. Hospice covers medications for pain and symptom management, along with medications for the patient’s primary hospice diagnosis. Medical equipment can also be supplied to the patient. This equipment includes but is not limited to hospital beds, low air loss mattress, wheelchairs, and oxygen concentrators.

What are some of the common hospice diagnoses?

The following are just a few examples:

• Alzheimer’s
• Cancer
• Liver Disease
• Renal Disease
• Cardiac Disease
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Pulmonary Disease
• Stroke

Where are hospice services provided?

Hospice services can be provided in any location, whether it’s in your home, a nursing home, or in a hospital. At St. Barnabas, care for patients within the health system, at participating Pittsburgh area hospitals, and in private homes within a 15 mile radius of the St. Barnabas Health System.

How long are hospice services provided?

Hospice services are initiated when a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less. As long as a patient meets eligibility requirements he or she can remain on the program for an unlimited amount of time. Sometimes a patient improves to the point where they are no longer eligible for the hospice benefit. At that time, services may need to be discontinued and then re-started at a later date. Families and patients have the right to revoke the services at any time if they choose to aggressively treat the terminal diagnosis.

Are spiritual care and bereavement services a part of hospice?

Spiritual care is an important component of hospice services. Our team is there to help prepare the patient and the patient’s family for what is yet to come after life on Earth. At St. Barnabas Hospice, a bereavement counselor visits each patient, contacts local clergy as needed, and is available 24/7. The counselor offers support at a dying patient’s bedside and as funeral arrangements are made. Our bereavement process follows family members for 13 months with cards, letters, and brochures to help them along their journey.

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