Category Archives: hospice education

Sarah’s Interview with KEZK

Greg at the mike

Our community liaison Sarah Bilbrey was interviewed this week by Greg Hewitt, morning host at KEZK (102.5FM) in St. Louis. To listen to their conversation about National Hospice Month and hospice care in St. Louis, please click on the link below.


You Can Quit Hospice


If a patient or family member is having difficulty making the decision to transition to hospice care, you should know that a patient can stop hospice care at any time.

If, at any point after being admitted for hospice care, a patient or family member feels that the decision was made too soon, you can stop hospice care and resume your previous course of treatment.

If, after beginning hospice care, a patient has a change of heart and chooses to go back to aggressively fighting an illness, that is an option that may be exercised.

If hospice care does not meet expectations, for whatever reason, the commitment to receive hospice care can be cancelled.

The vast majority of patients and families DO continue with the hospice care program they have begun. For family members, the important factor to consider is the welfare of the patient. Is he or she better off with hospice care or with another form of care?

In a small number of cases, a patient may get better or, at least, not get worse and choose to end hospice care. With many noncancerous conditions, it is difficult to predict life expectancy of a patient.

If the fear of signing on for something you cannot step away from is causing you, as a patient or as a family member, to avoid hospice care or to postpone making the decision, don’t be afraid. You can discontinue hospice care whenever you wish.

We at Hope Hospice work hard to meet the needs of patients and families. We explain to you exactly what hospice care is and what it can and cannot do, so that our service will meet expectations.

For questions about hospice care in St. Louis, please call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. We know that hospice may be an unfamiliar concept to many and we are always happy to help with answers to all your questions.


(photo credit,,

Hospice Education: A Never Ending Process

Hope Patient

Are more Americans using hospice? Yes. Are more Americans learning about hospice? Yes. Are there still many Americans who do not know what hospice is and what it provides? Yes.

While progress is being made, there continues to be much work to be done. Our Hope Hospice community liaison staffers are able to share a great deal of information with patients and families considering hospice. They can detail the main elements of hospice care and answer questions about the services Hope Hospice provides.

But a clearer understanding of hospice is important for all members of the public. Generally, this understanding does not occur until a family member is facing a serious threat to his or her life. Learning about hospice well before care is needed may help families and patients make more confident decisions

We applaud those who take the message of hospice directly to Americans. These include Dr. Atul Gawande whose newest book Being Mortal addresses end-of-life issues.

Online research can lead patients and family members to web postings that provide useful information about hospice. These include articles, blogs and videos.

In addition to online resources, your local minister may be able to offer guidance. We suggest that all religious leaders, especially pastors, priests and rabbis, pursue knowledge of hospice care. Since these leaders interact with so many church members seeking counsel, their acute awareness of hospice is vital.

It is also important that more members of the medical community get the full story on hospice care. Not just specialist such as oncologists and cardiologists, but also other medical professionals who can direct patients to the next steps on their life journeys.

We especially encourage individuals who have had a personal experience with hospice care to share their stories with others. A personal conversation can enlighten in ways that more formal presentations cannot.

As our effort to educate the public about hospice care continues, you may call Hope Hospice at any time with specific question about hospice in St. Louis. Call 314-984-9800.







November—Time To Learn About Hospice


November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to call attention to hospice care in America and the people and organizations that provide that care. Hospice education is an ongoing effort. We at Hope Hospice take every opportunity we can to reach out to the St. Louis community and explain what hospice is and what it is not.

It is encouraging that information and knowledge about hospice is growing. More people have had a relative or friend on hospice care. We find, though, that as more people learn about hospice, misconceptions continue to exist.

Among the biggest misconceptions:

Hospice is a place. While in-patient hospice facilities do exist, almost all hospice care in the U.S. is administered in private homes and in care centers (nursing homes and assisted living facilities).

Hospice is only for the very last days of life. When a determination is made that a person has a life expectancy of 6 months or less, a patient can become eligible for hospice care. Because prognoses can be imprecise, many patients stay on hospice care for more than 6 month.

Hospice care is expensive. Hospice care is a fully-covered Medicare benefit.

Hospice is only for cancer patients. Many hospice patients ARE cancer patients. But other patients have conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to congestive heart failure to kidney failure.

If a patient lives beyond the initial 6-month period, he or she will be dropped from hospice care. After 6-months, a patient must be recertified. If life expectancy is still 6 months or less, hospice care can continue.

A patient can only receive hospice care from a hospice that he or she is referred to. Families and patients may prefer another hospice, based on recommendations from friends, family and neighbors. There are significant differences among hospices.

The only reason to go on hospice is to get pain medication. A major goal of hospice care is to assure a patient’s comfort. But hospice care is a complete team program that includes spiritual and emotional components. It’s not just about the meds.

Again, the sentences above in bold face are misconceptions. During this month, we encourage you to take time to learn more about hospice care.

In metro St. Louis, call us at Hope Hospice for questions and concerns about hospice care. Reach us at 314-984-9800.


Another Way Hope Hospice Helps The Community

On most Wednesday mornings, there’s a gathering in the Hope Hospice break room/kitchen area in Hope’s offices.

Carl Lathan, one of Hope Hospice’s Community Liaisons, meets around the kitchen table with a small group of students from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Carl provides them with basic information about hospice care.

“Hospice 101,” as he calls it, introduces these med students to a concept unfamiliar to many of them. Each week’s group includes individuals who are high achievers. They have completed their undergrad work and have competed to attain a spot in a leading medical school. They are among our nation’s best and brightest.

Yet, they know little about hospice. Even those students who do have a passing awareness of hospice care are generally unfamiliar with all the various aspects of hospice care. Carl makes sure they understand the main goals of hospice: ensuring patient comfort and controlling patient symptoms. He also mentions the work hospices do in addressing patient and family emotional and spiritual needs.

Carl Lathan has shared this “Hospice 101” with numerous groups of medical students, so he knows what is most important. However, should any area of his imparted insight remain unclear, he always makes sure there is time for questions.

Allowing the medical school students to learn at Hope Hospice headquarters, where they have the opportunity to sit in on the weekly staff meeting, means they have the chance to hear also from other hospice team members.

For some of these students, this visit with Carl may be the only exposure they will receive to hospice care until they become doctors. Giving these SLU School of Medicine students an opportunity to learn from a veteran hospice professional is something that we at Hope Hospice are proud to provide as a community service.

For information about hospice care in metro St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

Hospice: NOT A Frightening Word

To some, it’s like the name Valdemort in the Harry Potter books. “He who must not be named” is how characters in the books and movies often referred to the Dark Lord.

For some Americans, the word hospice has a similar vibe. Hospice is associated with death and dying. Simply uttering the word “hospice” can be difficult for patients, family members and even doctors and other medical personnel.

But for many Americans, both patients and their family members, hospice means something good, something positive. A referral to hospice, for many patients, means an end to treatments that may have become ineffective, but are still difficult to endure. A referral to hospice means a focus on a patient’s comfort for the rest of his or her life. A referral to hospice can indicate a doctor’s true concern for a patient’s end-of-life experience.

Hospice is a word that can cause one’s ears to perk up. It can get attention. “Did you say… hospice?” But merely hearing the word spoken out loud should not be a cause for fright or anguish. In fact, when a patient is facing a life threatening health crisis, hospice should be discussed early in treatment.

Knowing that hospice is an option, in case treatment of the condition is less than successful, should actually provide reassurance. Learning about hospice and all that hospice care has to offer before hospice is needed can give a patient and family members a clear understanding of the ways hospice can help.

Rather than react with a shudder of fear when the word hospice is spoken, think of hospice as a health care service designed to make people feel better—patients and family members. Hospice care may not be needed now, or soon, or even for a few or several years.

Don’t be scared of hospice. Don’t panic at the mere mention of the word hospice. This is not a frightening word. It should be regarded as a comforting word.

If you have questions about hospice, call us at Hope Hospice in metro St. Louis at 314-984-9800.

Hospice Care: No Limits

Recent statistics gathered by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) state that 1.65 million Americans are cared for by hospice organizations each year. The number continues to grow. Why? Because hospice provides the care Americans have said they want.

A Gallup poll has determined that 88% of Americans would prefer to die at home, free of pain, surrounded by loved ones. This is what hospice care makes possible. As a whole, our nation’s hospices appear to be doing a good job. 94% of Americans who’ve had family members in hospice rate the care received as good to excellent, according to NHPCO research.

One of the key messages that hospices nationwide are communicating to the public deals with the six-month time period. The major qualification for hospice care is a prognosis indicating that a patient has six months or less to live. But there is not a six-month limit on hospice service.

A patient may receive hospice care for as long as necessary when a physician certifies that he or she meets eligibility requirements.

Under the Medicare Hospice Benefit, two 90-day periods (six months) are followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods.

Because there is the six-month prognosis requirement AND the initial enrollment period for hospice is also six months, there are misunderstandings. Some patients and family members may fear that if the patient does not die within the six-month period, the patient will be dismissed from hospice. But that is not the case.

Hospice patients do not have to worry about “using up” their hospice benefit.

Even though hospice care is becoming more popular in America and familiar to more Americans, the education process regarding hospice care is an ongoing effort. If there is an aspect of hospice care that is not quite clear to you and your family members, call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

Hope Hospice provides hospice care to residents of St. Louis city and county, Jefferson county, St. Charles county and Franklin county.