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All Care  is currently participating in The Lynn Daily Item's 'Ask the Expert' section on their Health page, which runs on Mondays.   Once a month All Care will be providing the community with unique insights on healthcare experiences, challenges, and covering frequently asked questions that come up during healthcare conversations and treatments.   All Care's Medical Director, Dr. Lewis S. Hays, board certified Hospice & Palliative Care physician, took time to answer some common Hospice questions he comes across when educating patients and families on end-of-life care for our first 'Ask the Expert' installment which ran on Monday, July 20th in the Daily Item.

Posted: Monday, July 20, 2015 3:00 am

Dr. Lewis Hays, M.D., M.P.H., All Care Hospice Medical Director, has been actively involved with hospice throughout his 35-year career, dedicating his life to the comfort and care of the patients he serves. Dr. Hays was instrumental in developing palliative-care services on the North Shore and continues to be a leader in this area. Dr. Hays received his Doctor of Medicine and his Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan, School of Public Health.

All Care's medical director, Dr. Lewis S. Hays, board-certified hospice and palliative care physician, answers some common questions he comes across when educating patients and families on end-of-life care.

When would I choose hospice care?

There are many myths about hospice care that prevent patients from benefiting from the support that hospice care can provide. A hospice referral can be made as soon as a terminal illness is diagnosed. You may choose hospice care when you are ready to move from a treatment plan focused on curing the illness to a plan focused on providing comfort and relief. The decision to choose hospice care belongs to you, the patient. One of my goals, as the hospice medical director, is to educate patients and families on the benefits of choosing hospice earlier rather than later in order to utilize all services available through the hospice program.

Does hospice mean I am giving up hope?

Many people are afraid to ask about hospice care because they believe that choosing hospice means giving up hope.

Quite the contrary. Hospice is not about giving up. Choosing hospice care allows you to focus your energy on the quality of your life and to make meaningful choices. Hospice provides you with appropriate and skilled care that enables you and your family to live life as fully and comfortably during the time that remains.

Who pays for hospice care and what is covered?

Hospice benefits are provided in a patient's home, a nursing home, an assisted-living facility, or wherever you call home. Most health insurers have a hospice benefit that pays costs associated with hospice care. Medicare, MassHealth/Medicaid, HMO's and many private insurance companies will generally cover all the hospice services including:

Physician services, nursing care, medical equipment and supplies, medications related to the terminal diagnosis, short-term respite care, home health aides, social work, bereavement, and chaplain services.

How long can someone receive hospice services?

Patients can stay on hospice for as long as they are medically appropriate as determined by the hospice medical director and the patient's primary care physician. Medically appropriate means that the patient's life expectancy is six months or less, if the disease follows its normal course. Some patients are discharged from hospice services earlier than six months, because their condition improves, others remain on longer if they continue to meet the requirements.

How would I access All Care Hospice’s services?

You would contact All Care Hospice's Intake Department at 781-598-7066. After your call, a member of our hospice team would contact your physician to make sure he/she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for you. A hospice nurse would visit you and your family at home, a nursing home, hospital or wherever is convenient to provide information and an assessment to see how our program could help. All Care's hospice team approach ensures that your comfort and quality of life is the highest priority.