FRANKLIN — In July, the Office of Inspector General released a report detailing stories of neglect and harm done to patients in hospice care in California, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and other states. The tales were graphic, but while the articles highlighted the poor performance of a few hospice providers, it didn’t provide a balanced view of hospice care.
Sensational stories sell papers or get clicks, but the papers who broke the story missed an opportunity to shine a light on providers of exceptional care, and the dignified and peaceful deaths the majority of hospice agencies achieve for their patients.
According to 2017 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization figures for New Hampshire, the most recent available, only 47.5 percent of people with Medicare who died in the state in 2017 were receiving hospice care. Hospice advocates will point out that the focus of care for hHospice patients is pain and symptom relief, and meeting goals the patient and their caregivers have set, such as dying without pain or a last trip to the ocean.
“Our hospice team is small, but dedicated,” said Elaine Cartier, hospice administrator for Franklin VNA & Hospice. “This means that our results don’t show up on the home hospice compare sites, even though our survey results are phenomenal. I can’t tell you how many family members have thanked me for the care we provided at the end of their loved one’s life and told me that they wished they had known about hospice sooner.”
Hospice is not expensive. Only 2.7 percent of hospice care is self-pay or charity care, per Debt.org. The rest of hospice patients are covered either by Medicare, Medicaid, managed care or private insurance. Hospice care covers medications for pain, nausea, and other symptoms, as well as equipment like hospital beds, low pressure mattresses, and wheelchairs, and even homemaking services, spiritual care and hospice volunteers.
“In our culture we don’t talk about death, we don’t want to see death. We want medical science to fix us. But at some point there isn’t anything more medicine can do to cure us and we want to stop the blood draws and tests and treatments that aren’t working any longer, and that’s where hospice comes in,” said Cartier.
On Oct. 12, Franklin VNA & Hospice will observe World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. The organize aims to overcome the stigma associated with hospice care. For more information, call Franklin VNA & Hospice at 603-934-3454, or visit www.FranklinVNA.org.