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Hospice Services

About Hospice Care
Hospice Services are available through the Western Maryland Health System to help meet the needs of patients and their families facing a terminal illness. Care is provided with a belief that dying is a natural process. Hospice seeks to affirm life by enhancing the dignity and quality of a patient's life.

Who are we?
Hospice is not a place. It is a program of supportive care. Most care is provided in the home (this includes Assisted Living, Personal Care Home, and Nursing Home). At times hospitalization is needed to achieve symptom management. If hospitalized a patient will continue to be followed by the hospice team and care in the home will resume when the acute problem is resolved.

Hospice care should be considered when cure is no longer possible and the focus of care is directed toward comfort. Decisions to forego or discontinue aggressive therapies are usually made at this time.

Team Approach
Hospice care is provided through a team approach. Directed by the patient and their physician, the team includes nurses, home health aides, social work, pastoral care, and other needed therapies. Together they create an individualized plan of care for the patient. Volunteer services and Bereavement care are included. The plan of care will be directed toward relief of physical symptoms and provision of psychosocial/ spiritual support.

24-Hour Availability
Patients & families may have questions or unforeseen problems at a time other than our work day hours. A registered nurse is available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If needed the on call nurse will make home visits at that time. These visits provide a link to the physician and often reduce the need for visits to the Emergency Department.

Referrals/ Admission
Anyone can request an information and assessment visit by Hospice. A physician order is needed to admit to services. The physician will need to verify that the patient is likely to be in the last six months of life and identify the Hospice illness.

Keep in mind that the six month time frame is a guideline. Patients may do better than expected and sometimes Hospice is no longer needed. If so Hospice care would be discontinued. If need continues past six months the service continues.

Paying for Hospice care
Hospice care is covered in full by most insurances. Care is provided regardless of ability to pay.

Medicare and Medicaid provide a special Hospice Benefit. This benefit provides 100% coverage for visits by staff, medications r/t to the Hospice illness, durable medical equipment in the home, and supplies for skin care, incontinence management, dressings, etc.

Additional Information
Facing a terminal illness can be overwhelming and one of the most difficult experiences in our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

Let Hospice help. You can contact us by calling: 240-964-9000

Hospice Volunteer Training

Western Maryland Health System's Hospice Services Team is looking for volunteers. Opportunities include Patient and Family Support, Hospice Nursing Home Visitation, Bereavement, Organizational Support and "Hospice Helpers."

Patient and Family Support Volunteers are visit patients in their homes to provide companionship to patients and give family members a break from the burdens of twenty-four, hour-a-day care giving. They may also run errands or assist with other household tasks.

Some hospice patients reside in local nursing homes or assisted living facilities and volunteers are asked to visit to provide companionship to the patient and support to their families.

Bereavement volunteers assist Hospice to maintaining contact with hospice families for a period of time after the death of their loved one. Contacts are made by mail and phone. Organizational Support volunteers assist with office task and special projects.

Hospice Helpers are volunteers who can be called upon to occasionally help with task such as small home repairs, legal assistance, cleaning, shopping, gardening, lawn care, haircuts by beauticians or barbers, cooking, baking, knitting, crocheting, sewing, crafts, playing a musical instrument or singing, reading to patients, videotaping or photography, and assisting with special patient celebration events. Teens ages 14 and up, college students, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, or home school organizations may volunteer for hospice as community service.

Volunteers are required to attend an orientation session titled "Hospice 101." It is a general overview of hospice in our community and the roles of hospice team members. Additional training depends on the volunteer role selected. The training is free but you must provide your own transportation.

For further information about the next hospice volunteer training schedule, contact Renee Gibson, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, at 240-964-9005, or by email rgibson@wmhs.com.


Did you know that

 Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare, private insurances and in most states, including Maryland, Medicaid.
 In addition to quality medical care from nurses and doctors, highly trained social workers, clergy, volunteers and others compromise a team of professionals offering comprehensive support and respite.
 Hospice care is available for those with advanced Alzheimers, end stage heart and lung disease, and other non Cancer diagnoses. Also, Hospice is available to infants, children, and people of any age facing a life limiting illness.
 Hospice benefit pays for medications and medical equipment to keep a patient safe and comfortable.
 Hospice care is available as long as a doctor feels the patient is eligible and says this in writing.
 Hospice professionals can help people document their wishes for care at end of life offering assistance with important documents such as advanced directives.
 Hospice care can take place in assisted living and nursing homes, where ever a patient calls "home.
 More than 4,000 hospice programs provided care to over 1.5 million people last year.
 Hospice care can include alternative therapies such as music, art, aroma therapy and massage to bring additional comfort to patients and families.
 Hospice offers grief support to those families served by Hospice as well as anyone in the community that is grieving.
 One of the most common sentiments from families who have been helped by Hospice is, "We wish we had known about Hospice sooner.

This information is provided by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and WMHS Hospice Services.