Medical Professionals

Services: Hospice & Palliative Care

When you learn that someone you love is terminally ill, the news is difficult enough.  Caring for that loved one shouldn’t be.

Hospice is a compassionate approach to care with a goal to help people with a life limiting illness live life as fully as possible, maintain dignity and control over their lives.

WESB LiveLine Radio Broadcast by VNA of Northwest PA on Hospice Care, 11/17/15
Dr. David Godfrey, Renee Shembeda RN, Amber Johnson RN. Click to listen.

The VNA of Northwest PA is committed to providing the highest quality of end of life care to patients and families in the place they call “home.” 

Unique physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial needs occur in the final phases of a life-limiting illness.  Specialized care focuses on comfort measures; pain and symptom management, emotional support, spiritual support and quality of life for patients when curative care is no longer an option.

  • Family centered care and support is provided to patients, families, and caregivers in their place of residence (home, assisted living, nursing home).  Every effort is made to preserve dignity and individuality by honoring patients’ personal choices regarding care and addressing issues most important to the patient’s wants.
  • Each patient’s care is delivered with a team approach by a specially trained hospice care team that includes nurses, home health aides, social workers, therapists, bereavement counselors, dieticians, volunteers, hospice chaplains, attending physician and hospice medical director.
  • An individualized plan of care is developed specific to each individual patient’s needs.  Family members and caregivers play an important role in the care planning process. 
  • A specialized hospice pharmacist is available 24/7 to assist the hospice care team in achieving optimal level of comfort and appropriate management of symptoms.
  • A hospice nurse and hospice physician medical director is on call 24/7 to meet individual needs of patients around the clock. 
  • A specialized durable medical equipment company (DME) is utilized to provide all hospice-related equipment & supplies.  (Such as hospital bed, specialized mattress, oxygen equipment, & overbed table)
  • Dietary counseling, Reiki, massage, aroma therapy and music therapy are available as part of the plan of care.
  • Respite care and back-up inpatient care are also available.

When is the right time to contact Hospice?

  • At any time during a serious illness that is life limiting, it is appropriate to discuss all care options, including hospice.  Being informed of all options allows time for informed decisions to be made.
  • Admission to Hospice is based on a physician’s clinical judgment within an expected course of a terminal illness.
  • Call Hospice at 814-362-7466 for more information on Hospice services.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has link to youtube videos about hospice care.


Who Pays for Hospice?

  • Medicare, Medicaid and most health insurances provide for full coverage of hospice care, usually with no or little co pay or deductibles.
  • All medical services, medications and equipment related to the admitting hospice diagnosis are paid in full by Medicare for most cases.
  • Patients are eligible for hospice when they have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and the prognosis is anticipated to be six months or less if the illness follows a normal course, curative care is no longer an option or is declined by the patient.
  • A patient may leave hospice and return to curative treatment, if that is their choice.  If they choose to return to hospice care at a later time, they can reactivate the hospice benefit at that time.

The choice for hospice care is not about giving up hope or waiting to die.  It is about quality of life and living with comfort through the limits of a terminal illness.

Family caregivers are provided with support and education to assist patients in maintaining comfort and achieving goals as much as possible throughout the final days or month.