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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Hospice?
A: Hospice is a special kind of care designed to provide sensitivity and support for people in the final phase of a serious illness. Hospice care allows patients to carry on an alert, pain-free life and to manage other symptoms so that their days may be spent with dignity and quality at home or in a home-like setting.

Q: Is Hospice just for cancer patients?
A: No, CareFirst serves patients with a wide variety of diagnoses from cancer and heart-related diseases to Alzheimer’s, as long as other admission criteria are met. Hospice cares for people of all ages since serious illnesses affect all ages. Our staff is trained to help with dying and bereavement processes throughout the life cycle. Hospice provides care to all sectors without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, diagnosis or religion.

Q: What services are offered?
A: Hospice care involves much more than emotional support and hand holding. Although we hold a lot of hands and hug a lot of people, our service involves complete medical care. Our physicians, nurses, medical social workers, spiritual care counselors and volunteers contribute to a highly specialized interdisciplinary team. We work closely with patients’ physicians. We specialize in pain and symptom management for the patient as well as counseling for the complete family. Our staff is trained and experienced in meeting the special needs of families experiencing the crisis of caring for a loved one who is seriously ill.

Q: Is Hospice the same as home health care?
A: No. Both home health care and Hospice provide care for people in poor health, but only Hospice provides specialized and comprehensive care, including professionals who can provide medical, emotional, spiritual and practical support.Hospice also provides full coverage for equipment and medications needed in the home.Available 24 hours a day, our nurses support the family through any medical concern.

Q: When is the best time to begin Hospice care?
If you have been diagnosed with a serious illness, it’s time to find out about CareFirst services so that you can have all the information you need to make informed decisions about your care. It is never too early to get this information, and receiving this information does not make you obligated in any way to elect our services. You can ask your physician about hospice care or call us directly at 607.962.3100 or 1.800.734.1570.

Q: Will hospice be able to come in and take over care? Will they be able to spend the night?
A: Hospice is not a 24 hour a day in-home nursing service. We are a support program to assist families in helping their loved ones to be comfortable and make the best use of their time while at home. We do provide personal care such as bathing and skin care to the patient. But, the bulk of the care is still done by families, friends, and neighbors; many families choose to hire their own caregivers. We do have an on-call service where you can reach a nurse 24 hours a day 7 days a week to respond to changes or crisis, but we do not have a nurse in the home all the time. We do, however, make arrangements for regular visits by the hospice nurse, social worker, volunteer and spiritual care counselor.

Q: Shouldn’t I wait until I am sicker to call Hospice? What if I am admitted to Hospice now, and can’t be re-admitted later?
A: As long as your doctor certifies that you are medically eligible, you can be admitted to hospice care. You can continue to receive this care as long as you are medically eligible, even very long term.If your condition does stabilize or improve, and you are no longer medically eligible for care, you may have to leave Hospice services, but you can be readmitted when and if your condition begins to decline. Let a hospice admissions nurse help you with this determination, as some situations vary depending on your insurance coverage.Even if you are not eligible for Hospice care, CareFirst has many other services, including our Thrive program that offer Palliative Care, that may meet your needs.

 Q: Just because I am admitted to the care of hospice, does this mean I am giving up?
A: No. Hospice is a means to help you live more fully and comfortably, even at the end of life. As a matter of fact, many studies show that Hospice care – if started as early as possible – actually increases life expectancy, decreases hospital use, decreases symptoms of all types, increases quality of life for patient and families and saves money.

 Q: How does a patient get admitted to Hospice?
A:Anyone can make a Hospice referral. Our admission team can come and talk with you and your family to discuss our services and your needs. If you do desire admission, your physician will be contacted to determine if you are medically eligible, but only with your permission.

Q: Can I refer myself to Hospice?
A: Yes. Your medical condition will have to be verified by your doctor in order to meet the requirements for admission, but the process can be initiated by you or your family.

Q: What happens once a referral is made?
A: Once a referral has been made, an appointment will be set up to visit you at your convenience to discuss services offered by CareFirst. If you want hospice care and your doctor confirms its appropriateness, services can begin the very same day. If you wish to take time to consider the information presented, another visit can be arranged.

Q: What about payment?
A: Most health insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, have hospice coverage. No one is denied care due to an inability to pay. Care for patients without insurance or with limited insurance is paid for privately and can be based on a sliding fee scale. CareFirst also raises funds to help offset costs of the underinsured.

Q: What are CareFirst’s notices of non-discrimination and privacy practices?
A: CareFirst complies with the applicable non-discrimination Federal civil rights laws and the privacy practices defined in the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.