Frequently Asked Questions


For whom is hospice the right choice?
Hospice care is a good choice for patients who have been diagnosed with terminal illness by a medical doctor. Hospice care does not search for a cure or aim for recovery but rather treats the symptoms of the underlying disease to ensure that the patient is comfortable in his or her last days. Hospice care is holistic, meaning that it addresses physical, emotional and spiritual concerns of the patient and his or her family.
Is hospice only for patients with cancer?
While many patients diagnosed with terminal cancer do choose hospice for end-of-life care, patients with any disease that limits life expectancy may be suited for hospice. For example, hospice often is used for patients with heart disease, renal disease, COPD or dementia. Treatment can help to decrease uncomfortable symptoms of any disease, including pain, nausea, anxiety, and shortness of breath.
How can patients pay for Hospice?
An increasing number of private insurance plans and HMOs cover hospice care. Additionally, it should be covered by patients with Medicare or MediCal. When Medicare covers hospice, patients will have no deductibles or copays. Patients who do not have these types of coverage may still be able to make arrangements with our admissions staff for private pay options.
How is hospice different from other types of medical care?
While typical medical care focuses on cures, recovery and lengthening life, hospice care focuses on improving the quality of life that the patient has left. It does not seek new treatments but rather treats the symptoms of the underlying disease to decrease discomfort. Patients under hospice care can be directly involved in the choices for care and can determine what goals are most important to them for the rest of their days.
How can an individual be admitted to hospice care?
Many individuals believe that they need to wait for a doctor to bring up the possibility of hospice care. While a doctor can refer a patient to us, we also accept referrals from anyone involved in the health care of the individual, including nurses, social workers, chaplains, family members and even the patient himself. By calling (949) 397-4179, anyone can start the admissions process. Initially, a registered nurse will take basic patient information and will get any additional information necessary from the patient’s primary care doctor, including an order to admit to hospice.
How soon does a medical professional visit the patient?
A registered nurse will visit the patient in his or her home or in a nursing home or inpatient setting within 24 hours after receiving the referral. The RN will make an initial assessment of the patient to determine what medical, social and other needs the individual has. The nurse will also answer patient and family member questions and describe services that we provide.
Who is on the hospice team?
We use an interdisciplinary hospice team composed of numerous members to provide a holistic approach to care. Patients will receive care from the following:

  • Registered Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses

The RN is in charge of the team and provides assessments and care plans. After the initial admissions assessment, the LVN usually provides regular assessments and communicates concerns to the medical doctor.

  • Medical Social Worker

The MSW helps with numerous patient and family concerns, including providing referrals, gathering community support and getting necessary members of the team involved in the care plan. The MSW can also discuss financial and insurance issues.

  • Home Health Aide

A home health aide provides the majority of the hands-on daily care of the patient, including dressing, bathing, brushing teeth and changing bedding.

  • Chaplain

The chaplain provides spiritual support for the patient and his or her family members. The chaplain will visit the patient, listen to emotional and spiritual needs and provide family support after the patient’s death. He or she will work intricately with the bereavement team and can answer questions about funerals.

  • Volunteers

Volunteers are an integral part of our team and are required by Medicare to work with us. They provide companionship to patients, help family members with everyday tasks and answer questions on the telephone.

  • Medical Director

The medical director oversees every patient’s care, ensuring that care plans are in place, consulting with doctors, encouraging proper teamwork and providing medical management to the hospice program.

Does hospice accept volunteers?
Our hospice program at St. Bernardine’s accepts volunteers who are truly committed to providing excellent patient care with a focus on kindness, compassion, and gentleness. Volunteers help both the patients and their family members by providing daily companionship, helping with tasks, such as errands, and providing a listening ear.