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Lin Sue Cooney: New program offers curative and hospice care at same time

Lin Sue Cooney

Arizona Republic
December 30, 2017

In the time I’ve been privileged to serve with Hospice of the Valley, I’ve had countless conversations with patients and family members. It’s not uncommon to hear how reluctant they were to sign up for hospice. Yet in the next breath, they confide they would have done it sooner, had they known how wonderful the care was.

Here’s the dilemma: In order to receive beautiful care from your hospice team, you must forgo more aggressive treatments such as chemo and radiation and in some cases, rehab services.

But what if you didn’t have to choose?

The Medicare Care Choices Model

What if you could have BOTH curative care and hospice care at the same time? Imagine having a team of compassionate caregivers supporting you and your family physically, emotionally and spiritually — while you are going through the rigors of aggressive cancer treatment.

Hospice of the Valley nurse works with a patient.

It’s not a hypothetical anymore — it’s reality.

Hospice of the Valley is the only hospice in Arizona to be chosen to take part in a new project called the Medicare Care Choices Model. It allows people who are seriously ill and still undergoing curative treatments to have a hospice team care for them at the same time.

“We are excited to participate in this national model that we believe will show the advantages of supporting patients who are eligible for hospice and are still seeking curative treatments,” said Debbie Shumway, executive director, Hospice of the Valley. “This is what patients and families want.”

Applications accepted starting Jan. 1

Starting Jan. 1, Hospice of the Valley will begin accepting patients for hospice care who are also continuing with chemotherapy or radiation, dialysis or rehabilitation.

We call our program Medicaring. Patients have to meet a few criteria, such as: live in a traditional home setting (not a group home or care facility); have Medicare as their primary coverage; and have had at least one hospital or emergency room visit in the past year.

If eligible, these Medicaring patients will demonstrate the benefits of receiving both curative and comfort care simultaneously. We will learn if it enhances quality of care, lengthens patients’ lives and reduces expense by eliminating costly emergency room visits and hospital stays.

The best part of all: This program is 100 percent covered by Medicare with no out-of-pocket expense for the patient.

Patients interested in Medicaring may call Hospice of the Valley for more information at 602-530-6900.