It takes a special person to be a hospice worker, dealing with terminally ill patients on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.
It takes an even more special person to be a hospice volunteer.
That is why the Barton HealthCare System's Hospice of the Lake & Valley hosted a special luncheon last week at Barone & Reed Food Company in Minden to honor the nearly two dozen hospice volunteers who give so freely of their time, their hearts and their compassion.
â€œOur hospice staff is pretty amazing but without the help of these invaluable hospice volunteers, we couldn't accomplish nearly as much,â€ said Robin Schmidt, Director of Nursing for Barton's Home Health & Hospice of the Lake & Valley.
â€œThese volunteers help with terminally ill patients and their families, they volunteer in our offices and they run the valley's Hospice Thrift Store,â€ Schmidt said.
Many of the hospice volunteers have had a personal experience with hospice care either in their families or their communities, giving them the extra compassion it takes to offer their free time to help other families during that very stressful time when they are losing a loved one.
The next Hospice Volunteer Training session in South Lake Tahoe is July 7 and 8 in the Home Health & Hospice office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch is provided. The office is at 2092 Lake Tahoe Blvd, Suite 500, in the Tahoe Valley Pharmacy Complex. For more information, call (530) 543-5581.
Hospice care is designed for patients who have a terminal diagnosis and a life expectancy of six months or less.Â Medicare reimbursement for Hospice care is paid at a daily rate and covers medication, professional care and medical equipment related to the patient's terminal diagnosis.
When a patient decides to accept Medicare reimbursement for hospice care, they are choosing to focus on comfort care and quality of life, not curative or life prolonging measures.
Medicare will not provide reimbursement for both curative measures and comfort care for a terminal diagnosis.Â The patient must choose.Â
If at some point during Hospice care, a patient chooses to seek life prolonging treatment they may notify their Hospice Nurse Case Manager.Â The Case Manager will take the patient a â€œHospice Benefit Revocationâ€ form to sign.Â The patient's Medicare benefit will then return to its previous state.Â
Patients often choose to return to their regular Medicare benefits if they learn of a new treatment for their disease or if they no longer qualify for Hospice care because their prognosis has been extended, often due to the intensive nursing care they receive as a Hospice patient.Â
If at a later date the patient again chooses Hospice care and meets the conditions for admission, such as a terminal diagnosis of six month or less and seeking comfort care, they may re-enter the program with no Medicare benefit penalties.
â€œWithout the nearly two dozen hospice volunteers, we wouldn't be able to offer nearly the scope of care that we can with those volunteers available,â€ said Schmidt. â€œOf course, we can always use more volunteers, which is why we love to offer the training. They offer the heart and compassion, we just guide them.â€