Many questions come to mind when individuals and families are thinking about hospice care.  Here are some questions we commonly answer. If you have other questions, feel free to call us at 575-525-5757.

When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Now is the best time to learn more about hospice and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services. It is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern.  This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed.  By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations.  Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones. You do not have to wait for your doctor to bring up hospice.

When is it time for hospice?

The time for hospice is when:

  • there is a desire to transition from curative treatment to comfort treatment.
  • the patient feels the treatment is worse than the disease being treated.
  • the patient and family want understanding, support, and guidance through the natural end-of-life process.

Please call us at 575-525-5757 to talk with someone who can help determine whether hospice care is appropriate for you. 

Who pays for hospice care?
Hospice care is a covered benefit of Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.

Will I be alone?
Neither the patient nor the family will be alone. Our interdisciplinary team considers the needs of the whole family. We work to meet not just the physical needs, but emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and their family. We are here for you 24/7.

Our fantastic Admissions team: Tracy Bredin, Julie Stanton, and Sylvia Chavez

Our fantastic Admissions team: Tracy Bredin, Julie Stanton, and Sylvia Chavez

How does hospice care begin?
Typically, hospice care starts as soon as a formal request or a ‘referral’ is made by the patient’s doctor, however anyone can make a referral at anytime.  A Mesilla Valley Hospice representative will visit the patient within 24 hours of the referral, providing the visit meets the needs and schedule of the patient and family/primary caregiver. Ultimately, the choice whether to receive hospice care is up to the patient. 

How do I start the admissions process?
Call our admissions team at 575-525-5757.

Will I be the only hospice patient that the hospice staff serves?
Every hospice patient has access to a hospice volunteer, registered nurse, social worker, home health aide, and chaplain (also known as the interdisciplinary team).  For each patient and family, the interdisciplinary team writes a care plan with the patient/family that is used to make sure the patient and family receive the care they need from the team. Typically, full-time registered nurses provide care to about a dozen different families.  Social workers usually work with about twice the number of patients/families as nurses. If needed, home health aides, who provide personal care to the patient, will visit most frequently.
All visits, however, are based on the patient and family needs as described in the care plan and the condition of the patient during the course of illness.  The frequency of volunteers and spiritual care is often dependent upon the family request and the availability of these services. 

How does the hospice work to keep the patient comfortable?
Many patients may have pain and other serious symptoms as illness progresses.  Mesilla Valley Hospice has a pharmacist on staff who has special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that cause pain, discomfort and distress.  Because keeping the patient comfortable and pain-free is an important part of hospice care, many hospice programs have developed ways to measure how comfortable the patient is during the course of their stay in hospice.  Hospice staff works with the patient’s physician to make sure that medication, therapies, and procedures are designed to achieve the goals outlined in the patient’s care plan.  The care plan is reviewed frequently to make sure any changes and new goals are in the plan.

Is hospice available after hours?
Mesilla Valley Hospice is available ‘on-call’ after the administrative office has closed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.  Most hospices have nurses available to respond to a call for help within minutes, if necessary.

What role does the hospice volunteer serve?
Hospice volunteers provide different types of support to patients and their loved ones including running errands, preparing light meals, staying with a patient to give family members a break, and lending emotional support and companionship to patients and family members. In our hospice house, La Posada, we have volunteer musicians, dishwashers, receptionists, and much more!
Because hospice volunteers spend time in patients’ and families’ homes, Mesilla Valley Hospice has an application and interview process to assure the person is right for this type of volunteer work.  Areas covered by these training programs often include understanding hospice, confidentiality, working with families, listening skills and more.

Can I be cared for by hospice if I reside in a nursing facility or other type of long-term care facility?
Yes; hospice services can be provided to a person wherever they live. This means a patient living in a nursing facility or long-term care facility can receive specialized visits from hospice nurses, home health aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers, in addition to other care and services provided by the nursing facility.  Mesilla Valley Hospice has written agreements in place in the area to serve residents of the facilities.

Do state and federal reviewers inspect and evaluate hospices?
Yes. There are state licensure requirements that must be met by hospice programs in order for them to deliver care.  In addition, hospices must comply with federal regulations in order to be approved for reimbursement under Medicare.  Hospices must periodically undergo inspection to be sure they are meeting regulatory standards in order to maintain their license to operate and the certification that permits Medicare reimbursement. To date Mesilla Valley Hospice has not received any survey deficiencies. 

How can I be sure that quality hospice care is provided?
Many hospices use tools to let them see how well they are doing in relation to quality hospice standards.  In addition, most programs use family satisfaction surveys to get feedback on the performance of their programs. To help hospice programs in making sure they give quality care and service, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has developed recommended standards entitled ‘Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs’ as one way of ensuring quality. Mesilla Valley Hospice maintains a 98% Physician and Patient Satisfaction rate.