Did You Know: November 2013

Did you know that November is National Hospice Palliative Care Month?

By: Lorena Vernaz Asadi

Hospice care is a model of quality palliative care that focuses on caring for the terminally-ill patient rather than curing the underlying illness by developing and delivering a treatment plan that meets the individual’s wishes and needs, and that includes medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support. The philosophy behind hospice care is that everyone has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, a feat that is possible thanks to the joined efforts of an interdisciplinary team of professionals that involves the patient’s personal physician, a hospice physician, nurses and aides, social workers, spiritual and bereavement counselors, therapists and volunteers available around the clock to assist and comfort patient and family members alike.

According to the statistics collected by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization:

  • In 2011, about 1.65 million individuals received hospice services including 278,000 patients who were discharged alive by the end of the year (patients may be discharged if they express desire to pursue curative treatment or receive an extended prognosis)
  • Of the 1.65 million who received treatment, about 1,059,000 died under hospice care representing 44.6% of all deaths in the country in 2011
  • Half of the patients that were admitted to hospice received care for less than three weeks
  • Cancer was the primary diagnosis of those patients who entered hospice when the first program was established in 1974. In 2011, the top four non-cancer diagnoses were debility unspecified (13.9%), dementia (12.5%), heart disease (11.4%) and lung disease (8.5%)
  • Hospice care is covered under Medicaid, Medicare, most private insurance plans, and HMOs. Nevertheless, more than 80% of the patients receiving services pay for their hospice stay through Medicare

For more information visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s website.
Lorena Vernaz Asadi holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Psychology and splits her time between family, work, volunteering activities, reading and sewing projects. Aside from being an LGBT ally, her interests span migration, social identity, women’s rights and interracial relation issues among others. She is currently applying for graduate school.

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