Category Archives: Hospice

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Health or Hospice Provider

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Health or Hospice Provider

Every patient by law has a right to choose his or her care provider when in need of home health care or hospice services. Below is a list of questions to which every patient (or family member responsible for decision-making for the patient) should know the answer before choosing a provider.

Not all home health care and hospice agencies are created equally. Some provide better care than others. Some are more available than others. Be sure you don’t get stuck with a sub-par company by asking the following questions before choosing your home health or hospice provider.

Questions to ask home health or hospice provider

  1. How long has the agency served your community?
    EGAN has proudly taken care of over 150,000 patients throughout Southeast Louisiana since 1988.
  2. Does the agency have a brochure or literature describing the services provided and associated costs?
    Most services EGAN provides are covered by insurance and/or Medicare. We will gladly provide information related to costs associated with services you may require that are not covered by Medicare or insurance. Here is a complete list of the insurers EGAN is contracted to work with, including Medicare, Medicaid, Worker’s Comp and VA benefits.
  3. Is the agency a Medicare approved provider?
    EGAN Home Health and Hospice is a approved Medicare provider and we accept most private insurances. Call us (or click the above link in question #2) and we can confirm your insurance provider is one of our approved companies. However, if it isn’t we’ll work with you and your insurance company to get the services you require approved.
  4. Does a national accrediting body, such as the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, certify the quality of care offered?
    EGAN is proudly Joint Commission accredited and has been for decades (this is a bigger deal than one might think).
  5. Does the agency have a current license to practice?
    EGAN Home Health and Hospice is licensed in the State of Louisiana by the Department of Health & Hospitals to serve the residents of Southeast Louisiana.
  6. Does the agency offer a “Bill of Rights” that described the rights and responsibilities of both the agency and you, the person receiving care?
    EGAN Home Health and Hospice offers a “Patients’ Bill of Rights.” Every patient receives a copy of our patient “Bill of Rights” upon admittance to our care. However, if you would like to review a copy we would be happy to provide one to you.
    EGAN Logo and Phone Number
  7. Does the agency prepare a plan of care for you, the patient (with input from the patient, patient’s physician and patient’s family)? Will the agency update the plan if necessary?
    Every patient has a personal plan of care which is a complete collaboration between the patient, patient’s physician, patient’s family and EGAN Home Health and Hospice. Plans are adjusted as directed by physician and staff.
  8. Are agency staff members available around the clock, 24/7, 365 days a week, if necessary?
    EGAN maintains a full staff during normal business hours and an on-call staff to assist patients, physicians, and the patient’s family during non-business hours and on holidays.
  9. Does the agency have a nursing supervisor available for on-call assistance at all times?
    EGAN has a nursing supervisor available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions or resolve any issues.
  10. Does the agency utilize up-to-date, real-time, electronic records for the patient which can be viewed by the patient’s physician at all times?
    EGAN utilizes a state of the art tablet system which allows all of our field staff to update the patient’s care in the patient’s home. Additionally, all lab results, medication records, chart notes, physician orders, etc. are available 24 hours a day, and can be viewed by the patient’s physician and EGAN staff at any time.
  11. How are agency caregivers hired and trained?
    All of our EGAN skilled staff are licensed to provide care to our patients. In addition, we require that they shadow current EGAN staff, and are trained to strictly follow our protocols and specifications, complete any continuing education and certification requirements, and our Directors of Nursing conduct supervisory visits with staff to insure compliance and excellent care is being given to our patients.
  12. How does the agency screen prospective employees?
    EGAN requires all employees to pass a criminal background check and drug testing prior to employment.
  13. What is the procedure for resolving problems if they occur? Who can the patient call with questions or concerns?
    EGAN works very hard to ensure we are providing the highest quality of care to each and every patient. However, we maintain a completely open door policy should a patient, patient’s family or physician feel they have an issue, problem or concern they need addressed. A simple telephone call to our office [toll-free (888) 835-4474] will be directed immediately to the staff member best suited to assist and resolve the matter.

EGAN Home Health and Hospice - At a Glance

Hospice: When is Hospice Care Appropriate?

Hospice: How do you know when it’s time?

So when is the right time to have the conversation about switching an individual’s plan-of-care from curative treatment (intended to cure the illness or disease at hand) to hospice, which focuses on keeping the patient happy and comfortable during their final days, weeks and in some cases, months, and helping prepare both the patient and family – both mentally and emotionally – for the inevitable loss they will soon endure?

Many times, individuals struggling with chronic and terminal illness and their families and loved ones have strong misconceptions about their or their loved one’s prognosis, leading to decisions to pursue any and all curative measures, even when the disease long ago progressed beyond the point wherein curing the individual was still a possibility.

Hospice - Metairie, New Orleans, Covington, Baton Rouge, Hammond

As anyone who has undergone chemotherapy or radiation can attest, these procedures are painful, and come with many significant adverse side effects. When a disease such as cancer progresses so far that no amount of chemotherapy, radiation or any other treatment is going to send the cancer into remission, that is to say, when the patient’s prognosis becomes imminently terminal, transitioning from curative treatment to hospice, which uses a variety of palliative care measures as well as grief counseling and other services, is not only appropriate but is also the right thing to do for the dying individual.

Palliative care is not curative in nature. Rather than attempt to cure one’s illness, hospices instead focus on ensuring the patient is as comfortable as is possible given the circumstances, and helping make sure they receive maximum enjoyment of what time they have left on earth.

This allows the terminally ill to spend quality time with family, friends and loved ones right at home (or an assisted living facility). The alternative is to going back-to-back, to-and-from the hospital to receive intense treatments that harm quality of life, rob the patient of time that could be spent pursuing favorite activities or bonding with family when these treatments are administered to terminal patients who are either unaware that their prognosis is terminal or are in denial and hoping for a miracle.

EGAN Hospice

In many cases it’s best for everyone involved for someone (usually a doctor, nurse or family member) to be honest and direct with the patient and his or her family, leaving no doubt that the individual is going to die from their illness or condition, likely within six months of the disease runs its usual course, and that no amount of curative treatment is going to change that.

This way, instead of families holding on to false hope until the very end, then being surprised and distraught when the inevitable occurs, the patient can be made optimally comfortable, while both the patient and family receive both psychological and spiritual counseling beginning weeks or months, helping prepare all involved parties emotionally and spiritually for when the inevitable death occurs.

Palliative Care is defined by the World Health Organization as follows:

“Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”

Palliative Care is certainly a major component of hospice, however the terms are not necessarily simultaneous. For one thing, palliative care can be applied at any point during the course of treatment from a surgery, injury, disease or illness. Whereas Hospice Care is reserved exclusively for individuals who are terminally ill (meaning the are going to die, and that no form of curative medicine is going to change that), and includes palliative care among a plethora of other services.

Wikipedia defines Hospice as follows:

“Hospice care is a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs.”

Also from Wikipedia’s Hospice definition:

“In hospice care the main guardians are the family care giver and a hospice nurse who makes periodic stops. Hospice can be administered in a nursing home, hospice building, or sometimes a hospital; however, it is most commonly practiced in the home. In order to be considered for hospice care, one has to be terminally ill or expected to die in six months.”

EGAN Hospice is now available throughout all of EGAN Home Health and Hospice’s service area, which extends as far west as Baton Rouge, and includes office locations in the following locations:

  • Baton Rouge / Gonzales
  • Ponchatoula/Hammond (serving all of Tangipahoa Parish)
  • LaPlace
  • Metairie (serving New Orleans, Kenner and all of East Jefferson, Chalmette & St. Bernard)
  • Gretna/Terrytown (serving all of the West Bank, including Marrero and Belle Chase)
  • Covington (serving all of the Northshore, including Mandeville and Slidell)
  • Plaquemines Parish (office located in Port Sulphur but serving the entire parish including Empire, Buras, Delacroix and surrounding areas).
  • Franklinton
  • Bogalusa (serving all of Washington Parish)