Take Control of Your Healthcare Journey: Hospice versus Palliative Care

. January 6, 2021.
New Project

Taking care of a loved one with a serious illness can be a confusing time that leads to a number of high-stakes questions. Do they require end-of-life care? Do healthcare plans provide for long term treatment? What are the options?

Local services can help to answer these tough questions relating to both palliative care and hospice, two healthcare options with differences and distinctions that are often not fully understood.  Two local experts help to delineate the differences between these two care approaches, as well as expectations for you or your loved one who may require one (or both) of those services.

MFEATURE#1 ML 1_1_21 Art hospice Mary Beth QuinnPalliative care
ProMedica Senior Care Director of Palliative Care Services Mary Beth Quinn, BSN, RN, CHPN, explains that palliative care offers a broad scope of care in conjunction with curative treatments for people with long term, serious illness.  “You can continue to receive chemotherapy for cancer while the palliative team will assist you as you manage the side effects of your treatments,” Quinn says. “Palliative care can also be provided contemporaneously with home health services if the patient qualifies and would benefit from those services as well.”  It’s important to check with your individual healthcare plan to determine whether the care you receive will be paid in full, or if you can expect a co-pay for each visit. 

MFeature#1 - 1_1_21 - Hospice_Palliative care Dr. Marsha PaulBesides cancer, other serious long term illnesses that may make patients good candidates for palliative care include ALS, heart disease, COPD, and other health issues that significantly affect quality of life. Hospice of Northwest Ohio Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director Dr. Marsha Paul considers palliative care to be “an underused service,” possibly because people aren’t as aware of its benefits as they are about those of hospice.

“Palliative care services are done in the hospital, at home, or in clinics,” explains Dr. Paul. “And it’s a team approach that involves a social worker and an RN care coordinator— someone who is answering the phone and helping to make sure your questions are answered.”

Your first visit might be with a physician, but you might have follow-ups with a nurse practitioner or a social worker that helps you find out if you’re eligible for Meals on Wheels and other supplemental programs to promote wellness. It’s a holistic approach that involves many intersecting healthcare professionals.

While hospice also has a team-based approach to treating patients, it is specifically for terminally ill patients. “Hospice care is appropriate for patients with a life-limiting condition who are no longer seeking curative treatment, and they have a prognosis of six months or less to live,” says Quinn, adding that there are other factors to be considered to evaluate eligibility. Multiple ER visits and hospitalizations, unintentional weight loss, altered mental status, and other factors will be looked at when considering hospice as an option.

Payment for hospice is covered in full by both Medicare and Medicaid. Most insurances and the Veteran’s Administration will often cover hospice care in full, or minimal co-payments may be required..

Quinn wants to clarify that people “don’t have to be in the last days or weeks of life to qualify for hospice care. Our care is about living well in the time you have left. The sooner you call us, the better you’ll live,” she says, adding that hospice patients live longer and feel a sense of control over their lives. Hospice services also provide a break for full-time caregivers and the patient’s family. You can also leave hospice and return as needed. There is flexibility when it comes to receiving hospice care and palliative care.

No need to wait
Dr. Paul wishes that people would learn about their options sooner. “The sooner you get on one of the programs, the better,” she says. “The sooner you’re seen by palliative care about symptoms, then the better we can help get those symptoms under control so you can have  a better quality of life. Then, if that person’s condition becomes terminal, the nurse practitioners recognize, and can suggest, that it might be time to switch over to hospice. That provides input for the patient from professionals that he has a relationship with and the patient is not quite as afraid.”

It’s an empowering thing to educate oneself about hospice and palliative care rather than silently waiting with avoidant trepidation for a physician to suggest end-of-life options. Helping yourself, or your loved one, take control of their own healthcare journey is always preferable to being fearful of what is to come. 

What most families need are the supportive teams that can be found within palliative and hospice care, both of which are available locally. To find out more, visit hospicenwo.org and heartlandhospice.com.


January Home Maintenance

By Lisa Alleman Add these home maintenance tips to your 2021 Resolutions The holidays are behind us once again along with December’s flurry of activity and family focus. As we begin another year, the care of our homes is a worthwhile focus. These January Home Maintenance tips will help you start the year out right!

2021 Resolutions: Planning for the world after 2020

    A worldwide pandemic, a contentious national election and a renewed examination of racism in America, accompanied by hurricanes, fires and even murder hornets, made 2020 a once-in-a-lifetime year.  “The hardest thing for people to get used to in 2020 was the lack of predictability,” explained Matt Rizzo, CEO and president of A Renewed

RESTAURANTS OFFERING HEALTHY OPTIONS Need to take off five pounds after the holidays? 

  Happy New Year!  Did you eat your way through the holidays?  Need or want to shed a few pounds?  Still want to enjoy restaurant fare?  Diets and restaurants are not necessarily incompatible.  The USDA gives these tips for making healthy choices at restaurants.  Drink water, split  meals, pick salads full of vegetables with dressing

Who is this person taking care of me? Local health systems utilize ‘hospitalist’ approach

by Jason Webber Dr. Steven Zook is a hometown product and a University of Toledo School of Medicine graduate who works at ProMedica Toledo Hospital. He’s also a member of what has been called “the fastest growing specialty in the history of modern medicine”—hospitalists. What is a hospitalist? Coined in 1996, the term “hospitalist” is