By Kristen DeVitto, Director of Market Development, VITAS Healthcare

VITAS_consultation with coupleNational Hospice and Palliative Care Month, observed every November, is a celebration of the reasons that many nurses and other health care professionals choose to focus on caring for patients and families at the end of life. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the services that hospice care provides and the meaningful difference it makes in people’s lives.

Part of the mission of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Month observance is to help address a key issue limiting the public’s access to end-of-life care: awareness of the meaning and benefits of hospice. Hospice is an end-of-life care option – a philosophy of care – that focuses on patients rather than their diseases. Hospice care is tailored to the unique needs of patients and their loved ones and designed to provide them with dignity, comfort and choice.

One of the most common misconceptions about hospice is that it’s a facility or a place where people go to die. Fact is, hospice enables people to spend their final moments wherever they call “home,” alongside the people they know and love, in the midst of their familiar routines. It can be administered at patients’ homes, hospice inpatient units, as well as in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living communities or residential care facilities.

Hospice care includes expert pain management by treating physical symptoms, while providing emotional and spiritual support. The care is provided by skilled, interdisciplinary teams of experts, including physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, bereavement specialists and volunteers, who work together to ensure the best-possible quality of life for patients and their loved ones.

“Of all health care services, hospice is one of the most misunderstood,” said One Senior Place Chief Executive Officer Don Kramer. “In actuality, many patients and families do without – and often pass away without – the benefits of palliative care and other hospice services that could have such a positive impact on their lives.”

As part of its commitment to this mission, VITAS has defined and continuously elevated the national standards of care for terminally ill patients and their families over the years. The company has earned a reputation in Florida as a leading provider of choice, based on positive testimonials and referrals from health care professionals, patients and families for the high-quality services it provides throughout the state.

In Brevard, VITAS has provided this much-needed care to residents since 2002 and its footprint in the region has expanded to include one inpatient unit located in Merritt Island, Florida. VITAS takes great pride in its Brevard hospice program, which is well prepared to handle even the most challenging, complex patient situations.

Kramer said: “Locally, VITAS has made great strides toward raising the overall awareness of hospice, not only by providing excellent patient care, but also through their many educational outreach initiatives.”

The company is also proud of its long-standing partnerships and close collaborations with local hospitals and other health care facilities, including the American Cancer Society, Space Coast Cancer Center and the Alzheimer’s Association that share its important healthcare mission.

“We take pride in knowing that we have grown as the nation’s leading hospice and palliative care provider,” said VITAS Senior General Manager Kathleen LaPorte, RN. “During our observance of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, we recognize our company’s success at meeting the community’s growing needs for our services and as our state’s population continues to age, it’s critical for health care professionals at hospitals and other health care facilities to work together to educate and inform the community of the meaning of hospice and the important benefits that hospice care provides.”

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As the nation’s leading pioneer in the hospice and palliative care movement since 1978, VITAS recognizes the importance of observances like National Hospice and Palliative Care Month to ensure that everyone who qualifies for hospice can access this important service, which is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans.

For more information about hospice care or VITAS Healthcare, visit www.VITAS.com or call (321) 751-6671.