What is Hospice?

What is hospice?

Hospice is a patient-centered, family-oriented approach to care for anyone in the advanced stages of a life-limiting illness. By combining careful pain and symptom management with spiritual and emotional support, hospice enables patients to live out the remainder of their days in comfort and dignity, surrounded by those they love.

For patients, hospice care does not hasten death nor prolong life, but allows the illness to take its natural course. For families, hospice provides extensive grief resources, both before and after the loss of a loved one.

Is hospice care only for the elderly?

Hospice care is available to people of all ages, including children who have been diagnosed with a progressive or life-limiting illness.

Who decides if hospice care is needed?

Together, the physician, patient and family determine when hospice care is needed and what services are necessary. a patient can receive hospice care when a life-limiting illness is present, and life expectancy is six months or less if the disease follows its normal course.

What is BridgingLife's service area?

We serve patients residing in Baltimore, Carroll and Frederick counties, Baltimore City and portions of Southern Pennsylvania.

When should hospice be contacted?

Hospice care is appropriate when curative treatments are no longer available or desired. The focus of hospice care is to keep the patient comfortable with pain management and symptom control as the illness progresses. Learn some of the indicators that it is time for hospice care.

If you are unsure whether you or your loved one is ready for hospice care, please contact BridgingLife directly at 410-871-8000.

Who provides hospice care?

Care is provided by our team of registered nurses, certified home health aides, physicians, social workers, bereavement counselors, spiritual counselors, chaplains and volunteers, all with the goal of making patients as comfortable as possible while respecting their end-of-life wishes.

The hospice team works closely with patients and their families, ensuring that patients are involved in making their own healthcare decisions, while also helping families provide supportive care. Our on-call hospice team is available around the clock, seven days a week, and as necessary, for home visits.

What is the physician’s role in hospice care?

When a patient or his or her care provider wishes to access hospice care, two physicians must state that the patient meets hospice criteria, a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than six months. Typically, the two physicians who sign this certification are the attending physician and the hospice physician.

Upon admittance to hospice, both physicians play an important role in the patient’s plan of care. The hospice medical director and his or her team of health care professionals oversee care for all hospice patients.

For inpatient settings at the Dove House or hospitals, hospice physicians see patients every day to provide care and symptom management. Attending physicians also are welcome to come in and visit with their patients.

Where can hospice care be provided?

Your Home: Most hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital. This allows patients to receive the care they need in a familiar setting. Home hospice care is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If an immediate need arises, an on-call nurse will address the concern or make a home visit. BridgingLife cares for patients in Carroll, Baltimore and Frederick counties, the City of Baltimore, and Adams and York counties in Pennsylvania.

Inpatient Facility: If pain and symptom treatment can no longer be managed at home or a crisis occurs, hospice care may be provided at Dove House, BridgingLife's inpatient facility in Westminster, or Northwest Hospital's inpatient hospice unit, a home away from home. 

How is hospice paid for?

BridgingLife is a non-profit organization that provides hospice care services to all individuals in need regardless of insurance coverage or financial situation. No one is refused or denied hospice care, and every patient receives the same level of high-quality service. Hospice coverage is widely available and is covered by all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid and VA.

How do I make a referral to hospice care?

Please visit our Make a Referral page, where you can find out more information and fill out a form to refer your friend or loved one to hospice care. You may also call us directly at 410-871-8000 to make a referral.

If you would like more information or have questions about financial coverage, please contact us at 410-871-8000.