Ask the Doc – Is it true that once you enter hospice care, you can never go back?

By Dr. David B. Stein
Medical Director, Kirva Hospice

Is it true that once you enter hospice care, you can never go back?

Hospice care is not a death sentence, it is simply a comprehensive service offered to patients with life limiting illnesses for whom a cure is unlikely or impossible. Patients have the right to leave hospice care at any time. If the patient’s condition improves, they may choose to pursue curative treatment again. The option to reapply for hospice always remains open. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort and support for the patient in whatever form they choose.

Are all hospice providers the same?

None of us has the choice when it comes to death and the end of life, however everyone should have a choice about the care they receive through their end-of-life journey. A journey that should be dedicated to enhancing the quality of life during the final months and days, so the patient, family and caregivers are surrounded with the support of the interdisciplinary team, assuring the patient experiences dignity, peacefulness, and a pain free death.

Points that differentiate hospices are; having accreditation either through ACHC (Accreditation Commission for Healthcare) or CHAPS (Community Health Accreditation Partner), many hospices are no longer accredited, however Kirva Hospice is one of only two hospices accredited in Richmond.

Also, our philosophy of care which is deeply rooted in the Jewish traditions and values that represent family and caring for the sick and elderly. Our Team approach of surrounding the patient based on their needs rather than ratios makes a difference in the delivery of care. Hospice care is meant to provide the best quality of life for terminally ill patients; however all hospices are not created alike.