FAQs: Timing, Eligibility and Admission Process
When is the right time to consider getting hospice care?
You should give serious consideration to transitioning from curative to hospice care when the patient:
- No longer responds as expected to treatments for the disease and/or
- Expresses concern that the burden of treatment is outweighing the benefits and/or
- Complains consistently of pain or other unrelieved physical symptoms and/or
- Makes repeated short-term trips to the hospital and/or emergency room and/or
- Is sad or depressed about his or her condition and quality of life.
Should we wait for our doctor to talk about hospice care?
While Samaritan works to keep physicians in our service area informed and involved, they may not always be aware of all the services we offer. You should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with your physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends. You can also contact Samaritan directly for whatever information you feel you need to make a well-informed decision at 1-800-229-8183.
May we call Samaritan even if we think it's too early for hospice care?
Yes. We encourage it! Samaritan welcomes the opportunity to provide guidance to families about end-of-life issues so that they are informed about all their healthcare options. Understandably, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping aggressive efforts aimed at 'beating' a disease, even if these treatments are proving to be ineffective or burdensome to the patient's quality of life. Samaritan staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns. You do not need a physician's referral to call us for information. If it appears that hospice care would be appropriate and beneficial, our staff - with your permission - would contact your doctor to discuss it. You may contact us at 1-800-229-8183 or email us for more information.
Do I need a referral for hospice care?
Patients are admitted to Samaritan Hospice with a physician's order. However, patients and families may begin the process with a phone call to Samaritan at 1-800-229-8183. If it appears that hospice care is appropriate, our staff can assist families in getting the necessary authorization from the patient's physician. Samaritan also employs a Medical Director and hospice physicians to assist and care for patients who have no personal physician.
What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
Most physicians know about hospice care. However, knowing when to refer a specific patient is often an inexact science. If your doctor would like more information about Samaritan Hospice, our medical director, hospice physicians and staff are happy to answer any physician inquiries and/or provide staff in-services about Samaritan hospice care, transitional and grief support programs at 1-800-229-8183. Disease-specific referral criteria and other information resources are available on this website. Physician information is also available from the National Council of Hospice Professionals Physician Section, medical societies, state hospice organizations, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) or the National Hospice Helpline at 1-800-658-8898.
What does the Samaritan hospice admission process involve?
One of the first things Samaritan staff will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient at this time. Samaritan also has medical staff available to help patients who have no personal physician. The patient will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital. The so-called "hospice election form" says that the patient understands that the care is palliative (that is, aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare Hospice Benefit affects other Medicare coverage.
May I keep my personal physician if I enroll with Samaritan?
Samaritan's staff works with a large base of referring physicians so that patients can maintain relationships with their own physicians, who continue to oversee and manage their patient's medical care. Our team of medical specialists works closely with each patient's physician(s) to provide the highest quality of comfort care.
Can an enrolled hospice patient ever change his or her mind?
Certainly. If the patient's condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. The same holds true if a new and promising curative treatment becomes available that the patient wishes to try. If the discharged patient should later desire to return to hospice care, Medicare and most private insurers will allow additional hospice coverage for this purpose.