Learn About Hospice

What is Hospice?

The term hospice refers to an approach to end-of-life care as well as to a type of facility for supportive care of terminally ill patients. Hospice programs provide palliative (care that relieves discomfort but does not improve the patient’s condition or cure the disease), patient-centered care, and other services. The goal of hospice care, whether delivered in the patient’s home or in a healthcare facility, is the provision of humane and compassionate medical, emotional, and spiritual care to the dying.

Learn more about the history of hospice

Hospice & Palliative Care Association of New York StateNational Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

 

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What is Mountain Valley Hospice?

Long ago hospice meant shelter or refuge…a resting place on a long and difficult journey. While some of that remains true today, the definition is more closely related to a specialized approach to healthcare that provides the very best quality of life for as long as a terminally ill person is living. Our primary goal is to ensure that the patient meets all of their desired end of life goals.

While all hospices have the same philosophy, we at Mountain Valley Hospice have gone beyond the traditional to offer our patients and families the very latest in hospice care with alternative therapies, a hospice house and the latest in pain management all in the comfort and quiet of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. You won’t find any better hospice care than right here in rural upstate New York.

Our families say things like “We don’t know what we would have done if hospice wasn’t there for us.”

How do we do it? We are available to you 24 hours a day 7 days a week with a staff of over a dozen nurse professionals, three social workers, a chaplain and countless volunteers to see to your every need. If we cannot provide care at your home, your loved one can come to our Nancy Dowd Hospice Home. This facility is one of only a handful in the state and is available for respite or long term needs giving you peace of mind. We have welcomed people from across the United States and across town.

At Mountain Valley we are regulated by the New York State Department of Health and have successfully completed our last two surveys because we truly believe that patient care comes first and live by that philosophy every day.

We are proud to now offer Dignity Therapy and give our patients and community residents the opportunity to create a Legacy Document. We are only one of a very few Hospices in the Northeast Region of the United States that offer this therapy-a gold standard in the industry.

Thanks to an extensive network of volunteers and caring community members we have been able to help many of our patients finish items on their personal “bucket lists” bringing joy to their final days.

We offer spiritual care and help families and loved ones express emotions and prepare for the grieving process.

We are your local hospice serving all of Fulton County and parts of Montgomery, Hamilton and Saratoga Counties.

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What does hospice care include?

Unlike many areas of healthcare, hospice utilizes a team of professionals and volunteers to provide care that is holistic and supportive. In a collaborative effort with the individual’s attending physician, hospice care encompasses the needs of both patients and those supporting them.

Comprehensive care provided by the hospice team may include:

  • Professional nursing staff on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Scheduled visits by a hospice nurse
  • Personal care assistance by a home health aide
  • Hospice medical director consultation
  • Support for emotional and practical issues by a social worker
  • Support for spiritual issues by a hospice chaplain
  • Medical equipment
  • Medications for the management of pain and symptoms
  • Assistance, support and companionship by trained volunteers
  • Consultation and support in areas of nutritional counseling, physical therapy,
  • occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, massage therapy, pet therapy, healing touch, music therapy, speech therapy and audiology
  • Bereavement and grief counseling by a qualified counselor

All paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances without out of pocket costs.

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What is the cost of the hospice house?

Medicare, Medicaid and most commercial and private pay insurances fully cover the professional services of hospice care.

Staff at Mountain Valley Hospice will assist patients and families in the completion of Medicaid forms, guiding them through the process.

Medicaid may pay up to the full cost of room and board leaving little out of pocket cost for the house residents. Some long term care and other private pay insurances will also cover the cost of room and board. The room and board rate for the hospice house is $300 per day.

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Who Pays for Hospice Care?

Medicare, Medicaid and most commercial and private pay insurances fully cover the professional services of hospice care professional services (physician and nursing).

Staff at Mountain Valley Hospice will also assist patients and families in the completion of Medicaid forms, guiding them through the process.

Importantly, Mountain Valley Hospice provides care regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.

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How are referrals made?

Although a physician is required to admit someone into hospice services, referrals may be made by anyone familiar with the individual, including family members, friends, healthcare providers, social service agencies, or individuals themselves. Upon inquiry, a hospice professional will meet with anyone interested in learning more about our extensive services.

Patient care options can be discussed at any time during a life-limiting illness, including the option to go with hospice care. By law that final decision belongs with the patient. Most people are uncomfortable with the thought of stopping efforts to “beat” their disease. Hospice staff members understand these concerns and can discuss them with patients and caregivers. You should know that if improvement in the condition occurs the patient can be discharged from hospice, if the condition worsens again they can return to hospice care. The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy or friends.

There is coordination between the patient’s physician and hospice staff. If the patient does not have a physician, hospice medical staff can step in to assist. The patient then needs to sign consent and insurance forms similar to forms signed when entering a hospital. There is an election form that says the patient understands that their care is palliative (aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. There is also a form that Medicare patients sign that tells how electing the hospice benefit affects coverage for terminal illness.

This informational visit will be scheduled at the convenience of the patient or caregivers and is a FREE service. For more information or to schedule a visit, please call (518) 725-4545 or (866) 944-0108.

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Who makes the decision to enter Hospice care and when is it made?

Patient care options can be discussed at any time during a life-limiting illness, including the option to go with hospice care. By law that final decision belongs with the patient. Most people are uncomfortable with the thought of stopping efforts to treat their disease. Hospice staff members understand these concerns and can discuss them with patients and caregivers. You should know that if improvement in the condition occurs the patient can be discharged from hospice, if the condition worsens again they can return to hospice care. The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy or friends.

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What does the hospice admission process involve?

There is coordination between the patient’s physician and hospice staff. If the patient does not have a physician hospice medical staff can step in to assist. The patient then needs to sign consent and insurance forms similar to forms signed when entering a hospital. There is an election form that says the patient understands that their care is palliative (aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. There is also a form that Medicare patients sign that tells how electing the hospice benefit affects coverage for terminal illness.

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What changes to my home or special equipment will I need?

Your hospice provider will assess your needs and make arrangements for any equipment you will need and how best to obtain it. The goal is to make the home care as convenient, clean and safe as possible. The Nancy Dowd Hospice House is always available for respite care or other emergency or special needs.

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How many family members or friends does it take to care for someone at home?

Your hospice team will prepare a care plan that will address the amount of caregiving a patient needs because there is no set number. Hospice staff visit regularly and are always available to answer questions and provide support. Changes to the care plan can be made at any time. Family and friends are the primary caregivers but hospice can provide additional volunteers to assist with errands and provide a break or time away.

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Does someone need to be with the patient all the time?

Patient care depends on the stage of the patient’s illness. In the early stages it may not be necessary to have 24 hour care. Later, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, hospice generally recommends someone be there continuously.

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How difficult is it to care for a loved one at home?

Caring for a dying loved one is never easy and nights can be especially long, lonely and scary. Hospice has staff available around the clock to consult with family and make visits as necessary. That is why home based patients are cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, clergy, therapists and volunteers. Each provides assistance based on their area of expertise to help care for the patient.

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Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospices do nothing to either speed up or slow down the dying process, they are there to lend support, expertise and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

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How does hospice manage pain?

Hospice doctors and nurses are current on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief and they are assisted by therapists and counselors who may be able to complement those treatments. Emotional and spiritual pain are also addressed and counselors and clergy are available to assist patients and families. The goal is for a hospice patient to be as alert and comfortable as they desire.

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Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?

While some religious organizations have started hospices, it is not affiliated with any religion and patients are not required to adhere to any set of beliefs.

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Is hospice care covered by insurance?

Hospice coverage is widely available, provided by Medicare nationwide and by Medicaid in most states and most private insurance policies. To be sure, check with your insurance carrier. Hospice can assist you in finding out if you have coverage. If you do not have coverage, care is provided for those who cannot pay through memorial or foundation gifts.

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What happens after the patient dies?

Hospice continues to provide contact and support for at least a year following the death of a loved one. There are also bereavement and support groups available for anyone in the community who has experienced the death of a family member or friend.

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