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How to Navigate Hospice Services and Access Care

Many of us realize that hospices are there to serve us.

But sometimes, it’s difficult to break the ice. How do you reach out – with a call or a click? And how do you express the need? With whom do you ask to speak? And what exactly do you say?

In a perfect world, there are protocols in place to accommodate all the above and more. And you should be able to reach out anytime – day or night, weekday or weekends, even on a holiday.

“At Emmanuel Hospice, we understand that life doesn’t stop when you have a need for hospice,” says Elizabeth Mangiapane, a patient access specialist there. “That’s why any time you call our main line, it’s going to be answered on a 24/7 basis. Easter Sunday? Middle of the night? It doesn’t matter. You will connect with someone who can help.”

Mangiapane emphasizes that a referral to Emmanuel can originate in more than one way. Often, a physician will make the connection. But sometimes, family members serving as caregivers become involved at the outset, and naturally they have questions about eligibility, timing and more.

While a physician’s order is required to perform a formal assessment, a representative from Emmanuel will welcome the opportunity to meet with a patient and/or their loved ones if they simply have questions.

In either case, “we do all the legwork,” Mangiapane says. If it’s determined someone qualifies, the hospice care provider will integrate the patient’s physician and medical history into the equation as needed.

“We’ll set up meetings. We’ll work with the doctors. We are glad to serve in any capacity that lessens the burden on that patient, on that family.”

Mangiapane notes that there’s never a “wrong time” to inquire about hospice. Too often, people will act on the misconception that hospice is only “for the last few days a patient has.”

On the contrary, “We’re trying more than ever to educate the community on how it can be for a much longer time period, so that we might focus earlier not on the quantity of life someone has left, but the quality of life that remains.”

For someone who lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, that institution may have a working relationship with a preferred provider. But Mangiapane explains that a patient and their family have the right to choose any hospice, and shouldn’t feel pressured.

Mangiapane says it’s important you come away with a full understanding of the services a hospice provides. At Emmanuel, for example, a full slate of complementary services is available – pet visitors, massage therapy, music therapy, virtual reality and more.

Location of care is important to ask about, too. A common misconception is that hospice is a place you go to, but for most providers, hospice care can be provided anywhere. With Emmanuel, it can be in the hospital, a care facility or wherever a person calls home.

Cost is another consideration. Medicare and most commercial insurances will cover 100% of virtually everything provided by hospice – medications and visits, personal care, counseling and other services – but there are some limitations. A phone call can help you discover where you stand.

“Make your choices based on the needs of the patient and family,” says Mangiapane. “You want what’s right for you, and that can look different from person to person.”

For more information, visit or call 616.719.0919.