Hospice: Frequently Asked Questions

What is hospice?

Hospice is a special form of care designed to improve the quality of a patient’s final days.

Its primary focus is to ease the symptoms of illness, with a special emphasis on pain and symptom management. It also addresses the social, emotional, and spiritual issues that a patient and his or her family will face. Our trained professionals and volunteers work together with family members to offer comfort and dignity during the patient’s last days.

What specific assistance does hospice offer patients living at home?

You or your loved one will be cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, and volunteers. Mercyhealth Hospice provides an individualized plan of care that includes patient medications related to the terminal condition (including pain medication), and other related needs, including supplies, equipment, personal care, and hospital and respite services, if indicated.

Who should make the decision about entering hospice and when?

For patients with a life-limiting illness, there may come a time when aggressive efforts to treat a disease are no longer an option or create more distress, pain, and harm than good; this may be the time to consider hospice services. Anyone may refer a patient to Mercyhealth Hospice services. Although hospice care requires a doctor’s order, you or your loved one may suggest it at any time as part of your care options.

How is hospice different from other types of home health care?

Rather than focusing on curative treatments, hospice simply focuses on making a patient’s final days comfortable. Doctors, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, home health aides, and volunteers all work as a coordinated support team. At Mercyhealth Hospice, we also focus on more than the patient—we focus on the entire family. Care providers maintain contact with the family for thirteen months after the patient’s death to support them in their grief and recovery. Often the relationships go on for much longer.

Where does hospice take place?

Depending on the needs of you or your loved one, hospice care may be provided in almost any setting, including the patient’s home, a friend or relative’s home, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living centers or senior housing. In most cases, patients prefer to receive care in the comfort and security of their own homes.

Who is eligible to receive hospice services?

Any patient diagnosed with a terminal illness may be eligible. Mercyhealth Hospice’s pain management and emotional support programs help the patient spend his or her remaining days in comfort, peace, and dignity.

Who can refer a patient to Mercyhealth Hospice services?

Anyone can refer a friend, patient, or family member to Mercyhealth Home Health or Mercyhealth Hospice. You don’t have to wait for a physician to recommend home health or hospice services.

Requests for home health or hospice services that come through a non-doctor source simply result in a phone call to the patient’s primary doctor for approval to admit the patient to services once an eligibility evaluation has been completed. And because health care instruction is one of our highest priorities, our specialists are happy to answer your questions about your health and comfort.

What is Mercyhealth Hospice’s admission process?

After we receive a referral, one of our experienced staff members visits the patient and his family in their home. We offer a free evaluation, thoroughly explain our services, answer questions and provide the benefit of our years of experience in helping patients and their families make a decision about hospice care. We also consult with the patient’s doctor to ensure that hospice care is an appropriate choice. Finally, we deliver a consent form to confirm that hospice care is the patient’s desired treatment. Once signed, hospice care can begin almost immediately, usually in four hours or less.

Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery return to regular treatment?

Yes, it’s their right. If the patient’s condition improves or the disease moves into remission, the patient can be discharged and return to curative therapy and normal daily life. If the patient should need to return to hospice care again, Medicare and most private insurance providers will allow additional coverage.

Is there any special equipment or changes that I need to make in my home for hospice?

Our hospice staff will assess your needs and arrange for any necessary equipment (for example, a hospital bed, wheelchair, oxygen, etc.).

How does Mercyhealth Hospice manage pain?

For most hospice patients, even a small amount of relief can seem like a miracle. Fortunately, Mercyhealth Hospice services often bring immense relief and a sense of comfort to patients who suffer.

In collaboration with your primary doctor and our Mercyhealth Hospice medical directors, our specially trained nurses will provide you or your loved one with the latest treatments and medications for pain and symptom relief. In addition, our aroma therapy program offers in home or facility symptom management for a wide array of disease processes such as CHF, COPD, Alzheimer’s, cancer and more.

Emotional and spiritual pain can be just as agonizing as physical pain. Mercyhealth Hospice offers qualified counselors, including clergy, to help the patient and the patient’s family cope with emotional and spiritual distress.

What is Mercyhealth Hospice’s success rate in relieving pain and other uncomfortable symptoms?

Very high. Mercyhealth Hospice’s combination of medication, counseling, and therapy typically helps patients attain significant relief, comfort, and peace of mind.

Does someone always have to be with the patient?

In the early stages of care, constant monitoring is usually unnecessary. However, one of the most common fears a hospice patient experiences is the fear of dying alone, so we generally recommend someone be continuously present in later weeks. As the disease progresses, if the hospice patient is unable to remain home independently or has needs beyond those that can be met in the home, the Mercyhealth Hospice team will help the patient find appropriate alternatives.

How often will a Mercyhealth Hospice staff member visit the patient?

We are committed to providing the highest level of care to our patients. As part of meeting that goal, we do not limit the number of visits to our hospice patients. We will visit the patient as often as they need us to.

How do I pay for hospice?

Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran’s Administration, private insurance providers and many HMOs typically cover hospice services. Private payments are also accepted. Our staff can help you determine if you qualify for benefits.

For more information about Mercyhealth Hospice services, please call (608) 754-2201 or (800) 369-2201 in Janesville, or (815) 971-3550 in Rockford.

Contact Us


Home Health/ Hospice
(815) 971-3550

Home Medical Equipment
(815) 971-3330


Home Health /Hospice
(608) 754-2201

Home Medical Equipment
(608) 755-7989
(800) 279-5810