Hospice Care: Debunking the Myths

Hospice care is relatively new to the health continuum of care in the U.S. but this community is fortunate to house Indiana’s first hospice program – now known as Our Hospice of South Central Indiana.  Even more recently, Palliative Care has is becoming more popular when managing serious illnesses.

The word ‘palliate’ is a verb that describes the act of relieving, lessening, or mitigating. The word ‘hospice’ technically describes a place or shelter for strangers.  In modern times, hospice describes the activity of caring for people with a terminal illness.

Both Hospice care and Palliative care provide pain management, symptom control, psycho-social support and spiritual care through a team that helps both patients and their families.  This full circle of support is provided by professionals of multiple disciplines which includes physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and chaplains, often assisted by trained volunteers.

Hospice care is palliative care provided when the person is no longer seeking curative treatment. Although hospice care is ideally suited for someone in the final months of their life, hospice care can and is provided at any stage in the course of someone’s illness or condition. Hospice care is the active pursuit of relief of symptoms when the patient, with the advice of their physician, chooses to seek relief rather than a cure.  Hospice care is a benefit covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.

Palliative care provides expert pain and symptom management to people earlier in the course of a serious illness and can be provided along with other treatments a person may still be receiving from their doctor.  Palliative care is a specialty in the medical profession that supports treatment in partnership with other medical specialties such as cardiology, oncology, internal medicine, etc.

In essence, all Hospice Care is Palliative Care, but not all Palliative Care is Hospice Care. 

Hospice and palliative care are available to people of all ages with any serious or life-limiting illness.

One of the benefits of a robust health system is that Our Hospice of South Central Indiana has specialists designated to Columbus Regional Health to meet with patients and families to answer their questions about Hospice and describe what to expect. Stephanie Rice, RN meets with families at the hospital or at their home to begin the conversation about end-of-life care and how Our Hospice can support them.

Hospice and palliative care combine the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support for patients and family caregivers during the stressful and fragile stages of managing an illness.  Hospice and palliative care can make a profound difference and help maximize the quality of life for all those who choose to utilize these medical specialties.

Our health system is preparing to initiate a Palliative Support Center location on our campus in order to better serve our communities.  Watch for this new specialty that will partner with the medical community to enhance the care and management of advanced illness in our communities.

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