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30th Nov

2016

Hospice Today

In 1974 the first hospice in the USA, Connecticut Hospice, was founded in Branford, Connecticut. Since then, hospice in this country has experienced phenomenal growth. Today, there are approximately 6,100 programs in the USA, providing service to over 1.6 million patients annually.

Growth of Hospice

One of the most significant factors in the growth of hospice was congressional legislation in 1982 introducing a Medicare hospice benefit. This benefit was made a permanent feature of Medicare in 1986. Today over 90% of hospice care is paid for by Medicare. Hospice care is now affordable for the great majority of patients.

During the early days of hospice in this country, cancer patients constituted the majority of hospice admissions. Today, fewer than 40% of admissions are cancer patients. Hospice now also services many patients with a range of diagnoses, such as dementia, heart disease, lung disease and renal disease to name a few. Though the majority of hospice patients are still elderly (around 84% being over 65), there are a considerable number of patients between 35 and 65 (15%). Hospice is serving a greater range of patients than ever before.

Over the years the medical profession has become more focused on providing specialized care for terminal patients. In 2006 the American Board of Medical Specialties created the medical subspecialty of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Today there are close to 7000 physicians who are certified in this subspecialty working in hospice and palliative care and patients in hospice are benefiting from increasingly expert medical care.

Changes In Hospice

Overall the growth and changes in hospice over the last four decades have been of great benefit to patients and their families. Yet, patients and their families are not taking full advantage of how hospice benefits them.

Too often patients enter hospice only when death is imminent, at which point they can no longer benefit from much of what hospice has to offer. Hospice seeks to improve the quality of life of those with a terminal disease, not simply to be there when they are passing. Half of hospice patients receive service for less than 17 days. Patients and their families need to understand the vital role that hospice can play in serving them. It is important to be aware, for yourself and for your loved ones, of the great benefits that hospice has to offer.

Though hospice has grown enormously since the first American hospice was founded in Connecticut, it remains a way of bringing comfort and support to one patient at a time. We at Aberdeen Place Hospice are a local Atlanta hospice, focused on the individual and the family; and we believe that because of this we are especially able to provide personalized care for each unique and very special patient and their family. Give us a call. 678.878.3440.

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