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Published on December 18, 2013

When Should a Patient be Referred to Hospice?

Having a family member in hospice is never an easy thing; however, through Crozer-Keystone’s Hospice Program the process is made to be as easy as possible.

Patients are usually referred for hospice services by their physician. The physician will discuss the subject with the family and the patient, then start the process of getting the patient into a hospice program either at home or on an inpatient unit – such as the Crozer-Keystone Hospice Residence at Taylor Hospital.

Hospice is care and support for terminally ill people and their loved ones. The Hospice philosophy encourages the continuation of a meaningful life in the presence of a life-limiting illness. Hospice does not prolong life nor rush death. The hospice staff assists in minimizing pain, offering comfort and helping patients maintain their dignity.

Those who are familiar with hospice may approach their physician about accessing these services for a loved one. Others may be referred directly by a physician. In both cases, the physician has to refer the patient for hospice care in writing. “The process is a same-day service when the patient is ordered for hospice care,” explains Linda Gosser, director of Hospice for Crozer-Keystone Health System.

When a patient comes directly from the hospital to the Crozer-Keystone Hospice Inpatient Unit, a hospice liaison does an evaluation of the patient with the physician who referred the patient. “The hospice medical director signs and evaluates that the patient will pass in 6 months or less and requires a resident nurse at all times, 24/7,” Gosser says.

If a patient requires at-home hospice care the process is very similar, but a resident nurse is not present at all times. A resident nurse goes to the family’s home where the patient will be staying and completes the admission process. The nurse explains what is involved in the at-home hospice service as well as the next steps after the patient has passed. Again this is all a same-day process.

Crozer-Keystone Health System is dedicated to the well-being of not only their patients, but family members as well. “When a patient passes after being in the hospice program, a nurse goes to the home where the patient was and they help the family begin a 12-month grieving process,” Gosser says. “We send them mailings for group support, and invite them to memorial services to make sure they are grieving properly.” Hope for Healing is the bereavement support group that aims to help loved ones go through the grieving process. Plus, a memorial service is held every December at Taylor Hospital.

Hospice care both at home and in the Crozer-Keystone Hospice Residence strives to give patients and family members the best experience possible. The staff keeps in contact with family members for as long as needed during the grieving process. From the time the physician suggests the patient should consider hospice care to the last day the patient is in the care of the hospice program, and then afterward for the family, the hospice unit actively works to make the entire experience easier.

For more information on home care and hospice call (610) 284-0700 or visit www.crozerkeystone.org, select Services, then Hospice.

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