Letters to the Editor

Choose carefully on hospices

South Carolina is not a Certificate of Need state when it comes to hospice. What that means is that anyone can open a hospice, thus Horry County has over 30 hospices. Hospice is a wonderful way to care for a loved one at home during their last months. While all hospices are required to offer the basic services, there are dramatic differences in what services and supplies they actually provide.

When choosing, and yes it is your choice which hospice you choose for yourself or loved one, there are some things you will want to know. Ask what the ratio is for nurses and CNAs to patients. Ask how often the nurse will visit and if needed how many visits per week the CNA will make. It is also important to ask about their policy for after hours and weekend calls. Some hospices rotate their full-time nurses and some hire on-call nurses. Inquire as to the general area where the nurses are located, keeping in mind that if you live in Green Sea and the nurses live in Pawleys Island it will take over an hour for the nurse to arrive. Most hospices have a plan in place for that scenario.

In choosing a hospice, also inquire about support services. A social worker must be available to help with financial or placement issues. A chaplain must be available for spiritual support and to help prepare for the loss and counsel the loved ones following the death. The chaplain should be available after hours in the event of a crisis or death. Again, ask about travel distance if it is important to have the chaplain present during the death. If you are considering donations to the hospice, inquire where those donations go as some hospices send donations out of the country.

When the hospice benefit is elected under Medicare, the hospice is required to provide certain medications, services, and equipment. Before signing on with any hospice make sure you fully understand what is covered and the services you will receive.

The writer, a hospice chaplain, lives in Little River.