When a loved one faces a life-limiting illness, choosing the right next step can seem daunting, and may even feel impossible. End-of-life care decisions are never easy, but they become more challenging the longer frank discussions are delayed. For many, the decision to contact a hospice organization is seen as the last resort, when in fact, reaching out to a trusted hospice care provider earlier in the process can create an invaluable support system.
For those needing guidance for end-of-life care and decisions, Center for Hospice Care (CHC), with more than 38 years of experience serving patients and their families, can be a great resource. During their history, CHC has cared for nearly 36,000 patients, each of whom trusted CHC for their experience, level of care, and compassion.
“We are the largest independent, not-for-profit hospice in Indiana and among the top 3% of all hospice programs in America based on the annual number of patients served,” explained Craig Harrell, Director of Marketing & Access for Center for Hospice Care. “CHC also gives back to the community. We never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay, who is eligible for our services. In 2016 alone we provided more than $2.2 million in write-offs, charity care, free care, unreimbursed care and discounted care.”
Understanding the difficulties families face and working to support them during a difficult time are also important to Center for Hospice Care.
“As aggressively as the doctors try to cure the disease, we just as aggressively try to keep patients comfortable and pain free once curative treatments are no longer deemed effective,” said Harrell. “When patients choose Center for Hospice Care, they get access to a full team that comes alongside them; including, a physician, nurse, home health aide, volunteer, spiritual counselor, and a social worker.”
Although end-of-life discussions can be frightening, Center for Hospice Care strongly encourages patients and families to consider hospice care earlier in the process.
“Many think hospice is for the last weeks or days, or even hours of life. Actually, hospice care is a six-month Medicare and Medicaid benefit that can be recertified indefinitely,” Harrell said. “Our most frequent comment on family surveys is, ‘We wished we had known about hospice sooner!’ By contrast, I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘We engaged hospice too soon.’”
Starting these conversations sooner means families are better equipped to handle the necessary decisions that will ultimately arise.
“What is best for the patient and family is to begin the conversations before a crisis is upon them, if possible,” explained Harrell. “Such preemptive discussions can relieve the burden to families if a patient should become unable to speak for themselves. Knowing what their loved ones want is a tremendous gift – to the patient and the families.”
To further help families and those dealing with a life-limiting, chronic disease, Center for Hospice Care has created new programs to address specific issues. Two of those programs, BreathEasy and HeartWize, are focused on lung and heart problems, and are both designed to keep patients at home longer.
“People with lung and heart diseases, frequently rush to the hospital because of symptom issues, but use of these programs helps keep them out of the hospital. We have over a 98% success rate for people staying out of the hospital,” said Harrell. “By candidly addressing challenging health issues, we believe that patients and families benefit. By being not-for-profit, we are able to focus what matters most; the wellbeing of those in the communities we serve.”
Although Center for Hospice Care has serviced LaPorte County for many years, they have recently opened a new physical office in the city of La Porte on Johnson Road.
“This convenient location will allow us to be more responsive to La Porte County residents, and, before long, Porter County residents as well,” added Harrell. “We’re excited about this new opportunity to expand our services to help even more patients and families.”