by Corrine Casanova
Recently I had coffee with Michelle Cagle who is an Administrator at Circle of Life Community Hospice in Reno. Michelle was happy to answer my questions.
- What is hospice care? Hospice is a program for people in the advanced stages of a chronic or terminal illness who have made the decisions to discontinue curative treatments, emphasize physical comfort and live their remaining days with dignity, surrounded by our team of compassionate caregivers.
- When is the right time for a family member to reach out/request hospice care? It is never too early to learn about hospice. We suggest learning about hospice long before you or a loved one needs it. Anybody can make a referral to hospice including the patient themselves.
- What services does hospice provide? Hospice provides physician services, skilled nursing, certified nursing assistants, spiritual counseling, social services, volunteers and bereavement support after losing their loved one. We provide durable medical equipment such as: hospital beds, bedside tables, walkers, wheelchairs, bedside commodes, etc. We provide all medications that pertain to the hospice diagnosis. Services are available nights, weekends and holidays.
- Who qualifies for hospice care? Anybody with a terminal illness where the attending physician and the hospice medical director feel the patient would most likely not live longer than six months, given the trajectory of the illness.
- How long can a person receive care? The Medicare guidelines state that the hospice benefit is for six months, however, if the patient is still declining due to the hospice diagnosis, the benefit will be extended ongoing.
- What is the cost of hospice care? How is it funded? Hospice is covered 100% by Medicare and Medicaid (no out of pocket expense). We also accept most private insurance plans.
- Who is best suited to be a hospice care provider and what qualifications should they have? Providers should have a true hospice heart and a passion for helping those at the end of their lives. Providers offer dignity, comfort and peace to the patient and families. Although not required, it is good if the medical director of a hospice is adept in internal medicine, geriatrics or a certified hospice and palliative physician.
Circle of Life Hospice was founded in 1999 by Mike and Deb Girard, RN with the idea of helping patients with the Art of Living at the end of life. In addition to the services required by Medicare, the Circle offers complimentary services such as: massage, aromatherapy, pet therapy, guided imagery, music for relaxation and Healing Touch therapies.
Michelle’s passion for hospice happened quite by accident. Her background is in media and marketing but when her mom was dying 13 years ago in Susanville, California and there was no certified Medicare provider for hospice in that area, Michelle dropped everything and became her full-time caregiver and nurse. “I took care of her and it was the most beautiful experience of my life. She told me I needed to be involved in hospice care,” she shared. After her mother died, she went back to her media and marketing career. In April 2014, she visited Circle of Life as she was an account executive at Cumulus Media. They recognized her heart for hospice and offered her a job on the spot. She is now the Administrator at Circle of Life where she has successfully been able to combine her media and marketing experience with her passion for hospice. To learn more about choosing a quality hospice, the Circle of Hope Hospice and their Foundation, go to www.colhospice.comor call 775-827-2298.