Finding a Quality Hospice Program

The American Association of Retired Persons® (AARP) recently posted information about choosing a hospice on their website. In the article, professionals recommend initiating conversations earlier to avoid patients and families needing to make a choice “under duress.” They also stressed the importance of prefacing any discussion regarding end-of-life care with first exploring what is important to the patient, what he or she understands about his or her illness, and how best to personalize his or her care.

The article also provided a list of questions to ask a hospice when considering enrolling in their care. The following is how Carroll Hospice would respond to those questions:

Q: Does the hospice’s medical director make home visits to address complex symptom management?

A: Yes. Our full-time medical director, John Middleton, M.D., cares for patients at Dove House and in the community.

Q: How and how quickly does the hospice respond to patient care crises after hours?

A: Carroll Hospice has staff available 24 hours/day every day of the year. Our NEWS Crew (Nights, Evenings and Weekend staff) consists of team members who specifically work after hours. Families consistently rate our after-hours responsiveness as being above the national benchmark.

Executive Director Regina Bodnar

Q: Does the hospice provide all levels of care mandated by the Medicare Hospice benefit?

A: Yes. Carroll Hospice is a fully compliant Medicare-certified hospice. General inpatient care is provided in our eight-bed inpatient facility, Dove House. Respite care is typically provided in a local nursing facility with which we partner. Continuous care is always available to symptomatic patients who choose not to leave the home setting. We bring the higher level of care to them.

Q: Is the hospice accredited by one of the three national organizations that survey hospices on their quality, which means it went above and beyond what is required by Medicare?

A: Yes. Carroll Hospice is accredited by Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP).

Q: Are the hospice’s professional staff individually certified as experts in their field by their recognized professional bodies?

A: Certification is required for all nursing and hospice aide staff members who have been with Carroll Hospice for four years or more. We are 100 percent compliant. Social workers, chaplains and our bereavement counselors have also individually pursued certification.

Q: How robust is the hospice’s volunteer program, and what does it include?

A: Volunteers are at the heart of Carroll Hospice—providing all those things to patients and families that do not require a professional touch. We have a vibrant Veteran Volunteer Program, doula program and pet visitation program among others.

Regina Bodnar is the executive director of Carroll Hospice.

End of Life: Quality or Quantity?

By John W. Middleton, M.D.

Over my career as a family practice doctor, many aging patients have asked me how to prepare for the end of life. It is my belief that we must always ready ourselves for the end of our lives. We must first recognize our own mortality. Everyone, including me, will continue to grow older; with age comes chronic conditions, serious medical issues and sometimes terminal diagnoses.

Read More