Use the information on this page as a resource to answer common hospice questions.
Where is hospice provided?
Hospice is not a place but a philosophy of care providing medical, emotional, and spiritual care focusing on comfort and quality of life. About 80% of all hospice care is provided in private homes, nursing homes, independent and assisted living environments.
Who is eligible for hospice care?
Patients must meet a specific set of medical criteria and secure a doctor's order indicating they have a life limiting illness, with a prognosis of six months or less. Although the majority of hospice patients are older, Avera Hospice serves patients of all ages, including children.
What kinds of illnesses qualify for hospice?
Hospice service goes beyond cancer care to serve a broad range of diseases, including congestive heart failure, dementias, COPD, renal failure, ALS, and other cardiovascular, pulmonary and neuromuscular diseases.
When should hospice care start?
The number one response in a NHPCO survey of hospice families is "I wish we had started this earlier!" Hospice care is most beneficial when there is sufficient time to stabilize a patient's medical condition and establish a trusting relationship. With pro-active symptom management and support, many hospice patients continue to lead productive and rewarding lives. Starting hospice is appropriate at the time of the terminal prognosis, regardless of the patient's physical condition.
Can I keep my own doctor during hospice care?
Your primary care or designated physician will continue to be an active member of the hospice team. By ordering hospice services, s/he relies on our expertise for your plan of care, but continues to have final approval for all medication changes. In addition your doctor will receive regular updates from our hospice team. You may schedule an appointment with your physician at any time.
How long can someone be on hospice care?
According to Medicare, and most private and commercial insurance guidelines for hospice, patients must have a life expectancy of six months or less. However, if the patient lives beyond the initial six months, he or she can continue receiving hospice care as long as the attending physician recertifies that the patient meets the criteria of having a terminal prognosis and is recertified with a limited life expectancy of six months or less.
Can we ever stop hospice or re-elect hospice?
Patients always have the right to revoke hospice and pursue traditional care at any time, for any reason. If a qualified patient requests to restart hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance and HMOs will allow readmission. A doctor's order is required.
Are all hospice programs the same?
All licensed hospice programs must follow Federal and State guidelines in the services they provide. However, unlike other hospice providers, Avera Hospice is a non-profit, faith-based program operating from a set of core values.
How much does home hospice care cost?
Avera's Home hospice services are covered 100% under Medicare and some Medicaid plans. This includes hospice provided in the resident's home, nursing homes, independent and assisted living environments. In addition, most private insurance, HMOs, and other managed care organizations offer hospice care as a benefit. See our Services page for what is provided.
What about costs for the Dougherty Hospice House?
Inpatient care at the Dougherty Hospice House (link) can involve some private expense. However we offer several options to assist patients with payment and never turn away a patient for lack of ability to pay.
Doesn't hospice mean we're giving up hope?
When faced with a terminal illness, many patients and family members tend to dwell on the imminent loss of life rather than on making the most of today’s gifts. While recognizing the importance of grieving in the healing process, Hospice also helps families create meaning and embrace opportunities for reminiscence, laughter, reunion, and hope. Our hope is that your family will look back on this experience with gratitude, and with the knowledge that everything possible was done towards a peaceful death.