Hospice care increasing nationwide

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Passing away at home, surrounded by family members and loved ones is becoming a common final wish.

When a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has less than six months to live, hospice programs provide them with health care to add comfort to their final days.

Hospice provides medical care, pain management, and emotional support for patients with life-limiting illnesses. A report from the National Hospice Care Organization says the demand for hospice care has increased in the U.S. by more than 2 hundred thousand patients from 2008 to 2012.

Heidi Shuman-Dugas, a nurse at Holyoke VNA Hospice Life Care, told 22News she expects that number to continue rising. “As the baby boomers get older I think we’re going to see a lot more demand of these kinds of services. More people are becoming aware of the option of dying at home,” she said.

Hospice services can take place at home, assisted living centers, or in long term care facilities.

Marilyn O’Brien’s husband chose to spend his final moments at home, surrounded by a team of health care professionals as well as his family. ”The last couple of days you’re under a lot of stress and the VNA is really amazing. The hospice people came in and made him comfortable during his last days, and took the stress and worry off of us,” she said.

Barbara Chatel had a similar experience when her husband was sick in the hospital. She said because of hospice, he was able to pass away in peace.

“He was in and out of the hospital so many times; he didn’t want to do it anymore. It was a matter of he was going to pass away anyway and his doctor agreed  it was better to keep him home, so he was home for three months on hospice before he passed away, he was very happy at home,” she said.

Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurance companies cover hospice care.


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