Hospice Questions Answered

Questions and answers about our employees and our services:

Whom does VITAS Serve ... and How?

We provide care for adult and pediatric patients with a wide range of life-limiting illnesses, including (but not limited to):

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung, liver and kidney disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • AIDS

VITAS focuses on the treatment of physical and emotional pain and symptoms. Palliative care is an active treatment plan, but it is not intended to cure a patient’s underlying disease. All VITAS palliative care treatments focus on enhancing a patient’s comfort and overall quality of life.

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Who is on the VITAS Care Team?

The interdisciplinary VITAS hospice teams are made up of trained caregivers who put individual patient and family needs first:

  • Nurses are experienced in assessing and managing pain; they provide hands-on care.
  • Social workers are friendly and skilled listeners who can offer emotional support and help with financial issues and planning.
  • Physicians collaborate with the patient’s primary physician and are available for pain and symptom management consultation, as well as to make house calls as needed.
  • Hospice aides help with personal care, such as bathing and mouth care; they also can help with light cleaning, light laundry and occasional shopping.
  • Chaplains offer spiritual support.
  • Volunteers, specially trained in hospice, are important members of the team who are available when they are needed most.
  • Bereavement specialists provide grief and loss counseling, memorial services and other support for family and loved ones.

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What Services does VITAS Provide?

VITAS covers all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, medical equipment and supplies required to treat life-limiting illnesses. In addition, VITAS provides four types of care:

Routine home care

VITAS provides residential care in patients' homes and has established partnerships with long term care facilities and nursing homes, assisted living facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly.

Continuous care (Intensive Comfort Care®)

If a patient develops the need for more constant care, VITAS can provide shifts of hospice staff at the home for up to 24 hours so the patient can avoid being transferred to a hospital.

Inpatient Care

If a patient's needs are beyond what can be provided at home, VITAS has special arrangements with local hospitals and other facilities where patients may receive necessary and appropriate care and return home as soon as possible.

Respite Care

Limited to five consecutive days, respite care provides a brief “respite” for the patient’s primary caregiver by admitting the home care patient to an institutional setting without meeting the “inpatient” pain and symptom management criteria.

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Who Pays for VITAS Services?

VITAS accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and other forms of reimbursement for its services.

Medicare/Medicaid

Medicare and most state Medicaid programs offer coverage of VITAS services. Since VITAS accepts Medicare and Medicaid as 100 percent coverage, there are no out-of-pocket expenses to patients or their loved ones for VITAS care. For care unrelated to a patient’s primary diagnosis, Medicare and Medicaid continue to provide their normal benefits.

Private Insurance

Since each insurance company has its own policies, VITAS can contact the patient’s insurer to ask about the coverage provided for hospice care.

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