South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 28, 2020
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November 2014 - Volume 11 - Issue 5

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National Hospice and Palliative Care Month: Elevating Awareness of the Meaning of End-of-Life Care

National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, observed every November, is a celebration of the reasons that many nurses and other health care professionals choose to focus on caring for patients and families at the end of life.
 
Part of the mission of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Month observance is to help address a key issue limiting the public’s access to end-of-life care: awareness of the meaning and benefits of hospice. Hospice is an end-of-life care option – a philosophy of care – that focuses on patients rather than their diseases. Hospice care is tailored to the unique needs of patients and their loved ones and designed to provide them with dignity, comfort and choice.
 
One of the most common misconceptions about hospice is that it’s a facility or a place where people go to die. Fact is, hospice enables people to spend their final moments wherever they call “home.” It can be administered at patients’ homes, hospice inpatient units, as well as in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living communities or residential care facilities. Hospice makes it possible for people to spend their final moments of life in their preferred surroundings, alongside the people they know and love, in the midst of their familiar routines.
 
Hospice care is provided by skilled, interdisciplinary teams of experts, including physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement specialists and volunteers working together to ensure the best-possible quality of life for patients and their loved ones. It includes expert pain management by treating physical symptoms, while providing emotional and spiritual support.
 
“National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the services we provide and the meaningful difference we make in people’s lives,” said VITAS Vice President of Operations Maureen Knips, R.N., B.S.N. “As our state’s population continues to age, it’s critical for health care professionals at hospitals and other health care facilities to work together to educate and inform the community of the meaning of hospice and the important benefits that hospice care provides.”
 
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) suggests that the best way to get others to discuss end-of-life care is to do so yourself. Almost half of Americans say they would rely on family or friends to carry out their wishes about end-of-life care, but most have never expressed those wishes. While some would want to explore everything that advanced technology has to offer, others would prefer a gentle, pain-free death if their quality of life were seriously diminished.
 
“During our observance of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, we recognize our company’s success at meeting the community’s growing needs for our services,” said Knips. “We take pride in knowing that we have grown as the nation’s leading hospice and palliative care provider based on the quality of the services we provide and the positive testimonials and referrals from health care professionals, patients and families we serve.”
 
As the nation’s leading pioneer in the hospice and palliative care movement since 1978, VITAS Healthcare recognizes the importance of observances like National Hospice and Palliative Care Month to ensure that everyone who qualifies for hospice can access this important service, which is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans.
Mary Zalaznik is Senior Vice President of Operations, VITAS Healthcare. For more information about hospice care or VITAS Healthcare, visit www.VITAS.com or call (800) 93-VITAS.
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