FAQs

What is hospice?

Hospice is a program of care and support for patients and families who are faced with a terminal illness. Hospice helps terminally ill people live their best lives, as comfortably as possible. The focus is on comfort, not on curing an illness.

Where is hospice?

Hospice is not a place or a location; it's a healthcare option. The best "place" for hospice is the place that the patient calls "home." Care can be delivered in private residences, nursing homes, assisted living and retirement communities, and in hospitals.

What's the Cottage in the Meadow?

Cottage in the Meadow is a wonderful, Medicare-approved hospice-care facility that addresses particular needs for the hospice patient. It is not where a hospice patient typically moves to once admitted to hospice (because the best place for hospice is the place the patient calls "home").

Hospice patients are usually admitted to the Cottage for one of these reasons:

  1. Symptom Management The patient's symptoms can't be managed well at home and the patient needs to be admitted to this hospice-care facility until symptoms are managed.
  2. Respite You can receive respite care if your usual caregiver (such as a family member) needs a rest. You can stay up to 5 days each time you receive respite care.
  3. Routine Care - a patient who seeks to pay for room and board above and beyond the benefit of Hospice may be able to stay at Cottage in the Meadow for an extended period of time.

Who provides care?

A multi-disciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides, bereavement specialists and volunteers work together to address the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of each patient and family.

How do I know when hospice is an appropriate choice?

Patients are eligible for hospice care when they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with a typical prognosis of 6 months or less. That is a time for patients and family members to consider transitioning the primary focus from curative measures to comfort care and symptom management.

When should hospice be called?

Hospice should be called any time the patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. It is appropriate to discuss all of the patient's current and future care options, including hospice.

How is hospice care paid for?

Hospice services, equipment and medications related to the person's terminal illness are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies.

A patient who chooses the Medicare hospice benefit agrees to stop treatments meant to cure disease. This is in return for other types of support and supplies. Hospice is a Medicare (federally funded) program. Medicaid plans and many private health insurance plans also have a hospice benefit.

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice does nothing to neither hasten nor prolong the dying process. Hospice provides expert knowledge and a compassionate presence during this very intimate and often difficult time for families. Hospice focuses on caring for the patient rather than working to cure the disease. If anything, hospice care can prolong life and its quality. Our services are designed to bring comfort, control pain and other symptoms; address the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient, their family and caregivers; and provide assistance in matters of practical concern.

What kind of training do your volunteers receive?

Patient companion volunteers must complete a comprehensive training program. Included in the training are the hospice history and philosophy, the concept of interdisciplinary team care and the medical, emotional and spiritual aspects of hospice care. Disease processes, stress relief and communication skills are also part of this very thorough training conducted by our Hospice staff and active volunteers. Prospective volunteers, like employees, are interviewed thoroughly by members of the management team. References are required and both criminal and driving records are reviewed.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Hospice staff members are happy to answer any of your questions and give you all the information you need by phone, letter or in person. Our office is located at 302 S. 10th Avenue, Yakima, WA 98902, and is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Our main phone number is 509-574-3600.

Are all hospices the same?

No. "Hospice" is a medical specialty like pediatrics, geriatrics and oncology. Each hospice is a different organization. All hospices have the same general philosophy but their services may differ. Some hospices are for-profit corporations, while others (like Memorial Hospice) are not-for-profit organizations. Yakima County is home to three hospices: Memorial Hospice, Yakima Regional Hospice and Lower Valley Hospice. It is your right to request the hospice of your choice.

Can pain and symptoms be controlled at home?

Yes. Pain and other symptoms can usually be controlled in the patient's home. If a symptom (i.e., pain, nausea/vomiting or difficulty breathing) becomes a problem, the hospice nurse can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Advances have been made in pain management, particularly in hospice care. Most symptoms can be controlled without the use of injections or IV medication. The hospice nurse will assess your pain and symptom control at each visit.

Does hospice provide 24 hour in-home care?

No. Hospice provides intermittent nursing visits to assess, monitor and treat symptoms, as well as teach family and caregivers how best to care for the patient. Team members are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions or visit anytime the need for support arises.

Can I live alone and still receive hospice services?

Yes, although a plan must be in place for when you are unable to care for yourself.

Can a hospice patient choose to return to curative treatment?

Yes. Receiving hospice care is always a choice. A patient may leave hospice and return to curative treatment if that is their choice. If the patient later chooses to return to hospice care Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies permit re-activation of the hospice benefit.

Can I go back to the hospital and still receive hospice care?

Yes. However, many symptoms that would normally require hospitalization or an emergency room visit can be successfully managed at home by the hospice team, thus preventing the stress of hospitalization. Hospice patients may need a short stay at the Cottage (hospice in-patient) to stabilize a symptom and then are able to return home.

Is the decision for hospice care giving up hope or waiting to die?

No. Hospice is about living-living your best life in the face of a terminal illness. Hospice strives to bring quality of life and comfort to a patient and their family. Our successes are in helping a patient and family live fully until the end. Often patients will feel better with good pain and symptom management. Hospice is an experience of care and support, different from any other type of care.

Do I have to be homebound to receive hospice services?

No. Hospice is about living fully. We encourage patients to do what they enjoy as they are able. The hospice team assists patients and families in achieving their goals and dreams as much as possible.

Does hospice provide support to the family after the patient dies?

Yes. Our Bereavement program follows family members for a year after the patient's death. Services may include personal visits, providing information concerning the grief process and offering periodic opportunities for group support. An annual "Celebration of Life" occurs, inviting families and staff to come together and celebrate their loved one. Bereavement services provide information and referral to other area resources when needed.