As providers, preconceived notions about hospice seep into our practice. If my patient goes on hospice will he lose hope? Will hospice care hasten my patient’s death? Does signing up for hospice rule out any further treatment for my patient? Is it too early for hospice?

Let’s start with the big one. Jefferson Healthcare Hospice nurses do not administer life-ending medications. In fact, studies have shown that patients cared for by hospice programs actually live longer! Patients enjoy a higher level of pain and symptom management, 24 hour on-call access to medical and nursing triage, universal coverage of medications, and oversight of the care plan by an expert interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, patient volunteers and personal care aides.

The goal of hospice is to provide the best possible quality of life for those living with a terminal illness. And the whole team works toward that goal.



More recently, the Hospice Foundation for Jefferson Healthcare Hospice provided start-up funding for a palliative care program. Palliative care programs increase access to many of the best components of hospice before patients reach the last few months of life. The philosophy of palliative care suggests that anyone with a serious medical diagnosis should have access to great pain and symptom management and the benefit of the interdisciplinary team approach. Often palliative care providers are the first to work with patients and families to define what they’re hoping for and what they’re concerned about. During this time traditional treatment approaches continue to be used to achieve the patient’s goals.

In most cases the goal of treatment in patients with advanced disease is palliative. In other words, chemotherapy or radiation therapy aimed at reducing pain or other symptoms. Once a patient transitions into hospice it is fairly common for patients to come off the hospice benefit for these type of treatments and then resume care under the hospice benefit afterwards. In many situations the treatment model looks like the figure below:


Medicare, Medicaid and most private health insurance policies pay for expenses related to terminal illness, including medications and medical equipment.  The Hospice Foundation for Jefferson Healthcare raises funds for services not covered by Medicare or private insurance.


  • An integrated team: Jefferson Healthcare Hospice uses an interdisciplinary, medically-directed team to care for and support our patients as well as their families and caregivers.
  • The Hospice team includes our hospice medical director, hospice RNs, social workers, hospice aides, clergy, therapists, trained volunteers, and each patient’s personal health care provider.
  • The medical director regularly consults with the patient’s physician and the hospice team.
  • On-call nursing support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for pain management and symptom control.
  • Hospice certified nursing assistants provide help with personal care.
  • RNs make home visits to assess and treat pain, manage symptoms, educate family and the patient, and coordinate care.
  • Medical social workers help coordinate access to resources.


Services that are not otherwise covered are funded by the Hospice Foundation for Jefferson Healthcare in order to make holistic hospice care options available to our community.