Hospice History

With time and the advance of medicine, death was transplanted to a new and often strange and intimidating environment: the modern hospital, where family members were merely guests and control rested with unknown health professionals.

In the mid-1960's, a British physician named Dame Cicely Saunders who had been exploring ways to improve the dying process and bring awareness to the importance of patients as individuals founded St. Christopher's Hospice in London, England, considered today as the first modern hospice.

In the United States, while acknowledging the many benefits of modern medicine, a group of clergy, healthcare workers and other thoughtful people began wondering in the 1970's whether these advances, by depriving the natural dying process of its family ties, hadn't also robbed it of its dignity. Out of these concerns, hospice care was born in the United States and the natural process of dying was returned to the home. The first hospice in America was opened in 1974.

Hospice has experienced extraordinary growth since then with more than 3,000 hospices now serving people in every state.

Bringing death out into the open and making sickness and loss of a loved one a time of sharing and remembrance is difficult. And while the hospice experience may not be for everyone, those who choose hospice find the unique caring for a loved one and the richness of sharing memories of youth, trials and joys a rewarding experience never to be forgotten.

What is the Hospice Medicare Benefit?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit is primarily a home care program (under certain circumstances covers hospice inpatient/acute care, hospital, and respite care).

Home is wherever the patient resides. A patient may receive hospice care while in an acute care facility if the hospitalization is for a condition not related to the terminal illness.

Hospice care is available as a benefit under Medicare Part A. It is for patients with a limited life expectancy and is the single source of all health care related to the terminal illness.

Under the Hospice Medicare Benefit, beneficiaries elect to receive non-curative treatment and services for their terminal illness by waiving the standard Hospice Medicare Benefits for treatment of a terminal illness. However, the beneficiary may continue to access standard Hospice Medicare Benefits for treatment of conditions unrelated to the terminal illness.

For more information about Medicare health plans or to receive a Medicare handbook, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

What is covered?

  • Hospice physician services
  • Skilled nursing visits - average of 2-3 visits per week & 24 hour services
  • Home Health Aide / homemaker - average of 2-3 visits per week
  • Trained volunteers
  • Drugs, equipment & medical supplies (must be related to terminal illness)
  • Respite care
  • Social work
  • Chaplain
  • Bereavement counseling
  • Therapist as needed

Qualification for hospice

Who is eligible for coverage under the Hospice Benefit?

  • Person who is eligible for Part A under Medicare (age or disability). This includes persons who
    have used up most recent Part A in a facility.
  • Person who is eligible for Part A under Medicare (age or disability). This includes persons who
    have used up most recent Part A in a facility.
  • Person who is eligible for Medi-Cal benefits.
  • Person who qualifies for Private insurance benefits.
  • Diagnosed with a terminal illness (prognosis of one year or less).
  • Diagnosis is certified by the patient's primary physician.
  • Diagnosis is certified by the hospice medical director.
  • Patient or significant other elect hospice care & seek palliative (pain control) rather than curative

No one is denied services due to age, gender, sexual preference, race, religion or ability to pay.

We at Avalon Hospice & Palliative Care are committed to providing comfort, dignity and hope through a professional staff, who are sensitive, understanding and filled with compassion. We are trained to apply state of the art pain management skills to control and manage symptoms, one patient at a time, regardless of their race, color, gender, or nationality. All of our services are based on the needs of care. We believe and treat each patient as one of our own family member. We will support and serve the families of each patient helping them understand how to cope with their pain and grief.

15 things you should know about hospice

  • Medicare and most private insurance companies have hospice coverage No one is denied service for inability to pay.
  • Hospice serves patients with all terminal illnesses.
  • Patients can receive hospice care for longer that six months if their disease is still progressing.
  • Hospice pays for all comfort medication related to the patient's terminal illness.
  • Hospice provides a Professional Nurse for symptom management and a Certified Nursing Assistant to help with personal hygiene. Hospice also has a Homemaker for light housekeeping.
  • Hospice provides spiritual and emotional support for the patient and family through professional team members, and bereavement support following the death of the patient.
  • Hospice provides medical equipment for comfort and safety.
  • Hospice patients/care givers may call hospice for advice or help 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Patients continue to visit their physicians while on hospice service. Their primary care physician automatically becomes a hospice team member.
  • To receive hospice care a local physician is required. Hospice can help you locate a physician if needed.
  • You can call hospice and request help for yourself or a loved one. Hospice can contact your physician for a referral.
  • Hospice coaches the family on how to care for the patient.
  • Hospice provides bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends
  • Hospice makes short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home or the caregiver needs respite time
  • Hospice delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed.