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  • Hospice offers Comfort, Love and Respect

Published on November 21, 2012

Hospice offers Comfort, Love and Respect which is the focus of November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

By Mary Pistulka, RN
Avera Sacred Heart Hospice Program

Hospice care provides expert pain management, symptom control, emotional support and spiritual care to patients and family caregivers when a cure is not possible.  Hospice makes sure that people receive comfort, love and respect during one of life’s most significant experiences – the journey at life’s end.  The compassionate way hospice helps maximize the quality of life is at the center of this year’s hospice month theme.

More than 1.58 million people with a life-limiting illness received help from the nation’s hospice and palliative care providers last year.  Avera Sacred Heart has been providing Hospice Care for over 20 years.  The experienced staff and volunteers know comfort and quality of life are critical needs and provide patients and families with and extra layer of support. With the help of hospice and palliative care, patients and families can focus on what’s most important: living as fully as possible in spite of illness.

Research indicates that 94 percent of families who had a loved one cared for by hospice rated the care as very good to excellent.

Most hospice care in the U.S. is provided in the home – allowing people to be with their families and loved ones in comfortable surroundings as life comes peacefully to a close.

Unfortunately, there are misconceptions about hospice care. You should know hospice is not brink-of-death care intended for the last days of life only. Hospice care is most effective for patients and families in the final months of life when families can take full advantage of the range of services hospice provides.

Six important points to know about hospice:

  1. Hospice care is usually provided in the home – wherever the patient calls home.
  2. Hospice cares for people with any kind of life-limiting illness.
  3. Hospice is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans and HMOs.
  4. Hospice is not limited to six months of care.
  5. Hospice is not “giving up”; rather the focus is on caring, not curing.
  6. Anyone can contact hospice – call us to learn if hospice is right for you or your loved one.

Palliative care brings the same interdisciplinary team approach earlier in the course of a serious illness. Hospices are the largest providers of palliative care services in the country with many organizations working to offer a seamless continuum of care through the course of a serious illness, and can be provided along with other treatments a patient may want to pursue. The palliative care team works with the patient’s regular physician and other health care providers to  anticipate, prevent and treat suffering while providing access to information, and facilitating personal choices which results in care that is patient- and family-centered and focused on optimizing quality of life.

The Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Hospice Team will provide a free “To Be Well…” community forum on coping with serious or life-limiting illness on Wednesday, November 28th 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Avera Professional Office Pavilion. A light lunch will be served. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested. For reservations call 605-668-8080.

For more information, contact Avera Sacred Heart’s Hospice Clinical Coordinator, Mary Pistulka, RN, at (605) 668-8309.  Additional information about hospice, palliative care and advance care planning is available from NHPCO’s Caring Connections at, or by calling the HelpLine at 800-658-8898.