Making the Decision for Hospice (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions

Arranging hospice care for a loved one and choosing from all hospice options often involves tough decisions. Below are some frequently asked questions that may make your decision easier. Click on a question to see the answer, then click "Back to FAQs" to return to the list.

I have been diagnosed with a "life-limiting" illness and my doctor has mentioned hospice – what do I do?

Begin asking questions. The decision to explore hospice is one of the most important considerations when evaluating care options for a life-limiting illness. For many people the thought of hospice is frightening. It takes courage to explore and ask questions about hospice. Because many families say, "We wish we had called hospice sooner," it is our hope that the following questions and answers will help make your exploration of hospice care easier.

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What is hospice? Is it a place?

Hospice is not a place but a philosophy of care. Hospice care is palliative which means it focuses on patient comfort and quality of life. Most of our patients are cared for in the comfort of their homes or in the home-like setting of choice such as a nursing home, personal care home or assisted living residence. If a symptom is difficult to manage in the home, a patient may be admitted to a hospital for short-term symptom management; however, it is the goal of hospice to help patients remain at home, in their familiar surroundings, when possible.

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Isn’t hospice only for cancer patients and the elderly?

No. Hospice serves patients living with a number of different illnesses including, but not limited to, cancer, Alzheimer’s/dementia, renal disease, liver disease, AIDS, heart disease, COPD, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and adult failure to thrive. Hospice care is available for patients who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, regardless of the type of illness. There is also no age requirement. Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center cares for individuals of all ages, from newborns to senior adults.

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There are so many hospices – how do I choose?

Not all hospices are the same, so it’s important to know your options. Your physician may have information on various hospice agencies in your community. An internet search may also be helpful. Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center will gladly visit your home for a FREE consultation to help you determine if Hospice if NGMC is right for you. Our Access Center nurses are also available to answer questions over the phone. For more information, or to request a consult, call 770-219-8888 or 1-888-572-3900.

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What questions should I ask when interviewing a hospice?

Does your hospice make visits in the county where I live?
How many times per week will the nurse visit me in my home?
What happens if there is an emergency at night or on the weekend?
What is the average response time of after-hours staff?
What kind of certifications does your agency/staff hold?
Does your hospice provide special services like massage therapy or music?

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How do I pay for hospice?

Medicare and Medicaid cover hospice services at 100%. Most private insurance companies have a hospice benefit. For patients without insurance, Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center social workers can assist with an application for financial assistance. We are committed to providing care regardless of ability to pay.

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May I still see my physician?

Your primary physician is a key part of your hospice experience. You may choose any primary physician to oversee your hospice care -- we encourage you to use the physician that is most familiar with your care. You may continue to make office visits to your physician if you choose. Our staff, however, will communicate with your physician on a regular basis – providing status updates and receiving direction from him/her for any changes in your care.

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Do I need a 24-hour caregiver?

Not necessarily. Hospice supports a patient’s desire to live as independently as possible for as long as possible and many hospice patients do not initially require additional caregivers. However, the help of family, friends an/or outside caregivers becomes invaluable as your physical condition declines. Hospice staff will work with you to monitor your safety and will help you plan ahead for the time when additional care giving becomes necessary.

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Is hospice available after hours?

On-call hospice staff is available after hours, weekends and holidays for support and visits when needed. We are committed to timely response and exceptional patient service around the clock.

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Who makes the decisions regarding my care while I am on hospice?

You do. Hospice care is often described as patient-driven and physician-directed. Hospice helps you and your family determine and accomplish your goals which may include pain management, recording a life history or attending a special event, such as your child’s graduation. Patients and their families are at the center of the hospice plan of care and are the most important members of the care team.

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Will my advance directive be honored by Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center?

Yes. It is your right to choose your advance directives, which are your options for care at the end of life. Hospice of NGMC does not require patients to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). Our staff is always available to discuss care options and to support you in your decision making process.

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What can I expect from Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center?

We want to be STARS in your home. We want to provide excellent Service with an exceptional response, be a dependable Team player with you and your family, have Attitudes that are kind and compassionate,Respect you and your family as being the only ones who matter in the moment and provide Safe care and teach safety measures for your home.

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I think Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center is the right choice for me – how do I get started?

Simply call 770-219-8888 or 1-888-572-3900 and speak with our Access Center Nurse. She will walk you through what is needed to begin care. We would be honored to be chosen to walk through this journey with you or your family member.

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