Frequently Asked Questions
What is Whatcom Hospice?
Whatcom Hospice, a program of PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, provides care that values life from the moment it begins until the moment it ends. With hospice, the end of one’s life does not have to be painful or lonely. Caring, personalized hospice care helps patients to live each remaining day of life to the fullest, in comfort and dignity.
Hospice provides life-affirming care for patients and their families, helping them with the medical, social, emotional and spiritual concerns that often arise during a life-threatening illness.
What Does Hospice Provide?
- Medical and nursing care under the guidance of a registered nurse care manager
- Social work services for referrals to available community, financial and legal resources, and for counseling, if needed
- An interfaith chaplain trained to help with grief and loss who works closely with the patient’s own clergy to provide spiritual support
- Specially-trained volunteers to offer support and respite
- Grief support services throughout the terminal illness and following the patient’s death
Does Joining Hospice Mean You’re Giving Up Hope?
No. Hospice encourages hope by focusing on comfort, dignity and meaningful time with loved ones near the end of life.
Is Hospice Only for Cancer Patients?
No. Hospice is available to anyone with an advanced illness and a limited life expectancy. Hospice has helped patients with chronic lung disease, heart disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), AIDS and other illnesses, as well as those with cancer.
How Can I Determine When Hospice is Appropriate?
The patient, family and/or physician can initiate hospice information / referral call or visit as soon as a terminal disease is diagnosed. When the patient would like to move from a treatment plan focused on curing the disease to a plan focused on providing comfort and relief, they may choose hospice care. At this point, the local hospice workers will meet with the patient's personal physician, the patient and the family to discuss available services and expectations, and to develop a plan of care designed specifically for the patient and family needs.
How Does Someone Become a Hospice Patient?
The patient, family or physician can call 360-733-5877 to ask for hospice information or admission.
Hospice admits patients who:
- Have an illness causing a limited life expectancy
- Choose to have care aimed at providing comfort when curing the disease is no longer possible
- Have a doctor’s order for hospice care
Who Pays for Hospice Care?
Most insurers, including Medicare, offer hospice benefits as part of their healthcare coverage. The unique features of the Medicare Hospice Benefit include hospice care throughout the illness, coverage of related medications, equipment and supplies, and respite.
If a patient has no health insurance, or if health insurance does not cover all the costs of hospice care, Whatcom Hospice will help find resources to ensure access to services.
Whatcom Hospice Foundation raises community support to help pay for items and services not covered by insurance. For information, or to make a gift, please call 360-733-1231 or visit www.hospicehelp.org.
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center
2901 Squalicum PkwyBellingham, WA 98225