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Why Choose Hospice?

choose hospice

Why Choose Hospice?

In today’s world, each person has many choices that can be made especially when it comes to healthcare decisions. You know you have the option to choose your insurance plan. You can choose your physician and hospital. But did you know that if the situation should arise, you can choose hospice and the provider of your choice? Even when facing a life-limiting illness, people have choices.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), Consumer Reports and the American Cancer Society have developed questions and checklists to help patients and families identify information that is important when choosing a hospice provider. Chapters Health System has answered these questions regarding its hospice services. We hope you find the following information helpful in choosing the end of life care that’s best for you and your family.


Questions to Guide Your Decision to Choose Hospice

1. Is the hospice Medicare certified?

All Chapters Health-affiliated hospices are Medicare certified. Our hospices provide all four levels of hospice care described in the Medicare Conditions of Participation—routine home care, general inpatient care, continuous care and respite care. Care is provided by a team of:

  • Physicians • Therapists
  • Nurses • Grief Specialists
  • Hospice aides • Chaplains
  • Social workers • Volunteers

Chapters Health care includes durable medical equipment, medical supplies and medications necessary for the care of a patient with a terminal illness.

2. Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal oversight agency in the last five years?

All Chapters Health-affiliated hospices have been surveyed by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) – both Good Shepherd Hospice and LifePath Hospice in 2013, and HPH Hospice in 2014. All Chapters Health affiliates are licensed by the State of Florida.

3. Is the organization a NHPCO member, and does it comply with all aspects of NHPCO’s Standards of Hospice Programs?

Chapters Health is a member of NHPCO, and not only complies with but surpasses NHPCO’s Standards for Hospice Programs. Key Chapters Health senior staff members often are called upon for expert input on such NHPCO committees as governance, regulatory affairs and professional education.

4. Is the hospice accredited by a national organization?

Good Shepherd Hospice and LifePath Hospice having been continuously accredited since 1990 and 2008 respectively, were both re-accredited by The Joint Commission in 2014. HPH Hospice became Chapters Health’s newest hospice affiliate in 2015 and is preparing for its initial hospice accreditation survey.

In early 2015, HPH Home Health earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for home health services accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with The Joint Commission’s performance standards. In addition, since 2007, both LifePath Hospice and Good Shepherd Hospice have been accredited by the National Institute for Jewish Hospice and HPH Hospice became accredited in 2015.

5. Does the hospice conduct a family evaluation survey?

With its mission to provide quality care, Chapters Health is proud of its family survey results. More than 96.4 percent of respondents reported that our patients received Very Good or Excellent care. In fact, Chapters Health exceeds the national benchmark on the question whether family members would recommend its hospices when someone they know would benefit from hospice care.

6. Does the hospice own or operate a care facility to provide homelike care in a hospice residence, hospital or nursing home?

With 140 total beds, Chapters Health has seven comfortable, family-centered, community-based inpatient facilities:

  • One in Hernando County,
  • One in Highlands County,
  • Two in Hillsborough County,
  • One in Pasco County, and
  • Two in Polk County.

These freestanding facilities allow 24-hour care for patients needing symptom control and who cannot be managed at home across our seven counties in West Central Florida. Chapters Health also has contracts with local hospitals and skilled nursing facilities for individual hospice beds in those facilities.

7. Are clinical staff (physicians, nurses, social workers) certified or credentialed in hospice and palliative care?

Many members of the Chapters Health clinical staff are certified in hospice and palliative medicine: More than

  • 20 physicians and nurse practitioners have achieved board certification in hospice and palliative care,
  • 45 nurses are certified by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association,
  • 50 social workers have master’s degrees, and
  • 35 chaplains have master’s degrees or have completed at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education.

8. What services do volunteers offer, and if requested, how quickly will a volunteer be available?

More than 2,000 trained volunteers donate their time and talents to Chapters Health. Volunteers are assigned based on patients’ needs and plans of care and provide the following services: patient/family visitation, children’s grief support, veterans’ programs, bedside visitation and music, massage and pet therapies.


9. Will staff come to the home if there is a crisis at any time of day or night and on weekends? Who is available to make the home visit (nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains)?

At Chapters Health, care is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. All calls are answered by Chapters Health employees and not an outsourced national or regional call center. All members of the care team—doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and hospice aides—are available to make home visits. After-hours support provides:

  • Direct access to registered nurses trained in end-of-life care,
  • Medical crisis assessment,
  • Physician availability,
  • Medications and/or home medical equipment/supplies due to a change in the patient’s needs,
  • Answers to questions patients and families have about care and
  • Support to address patient issues and concerns.

10. If I need to go to a hospital or nursing home, which does/doesn’t the hospice work with?

Chapters Health partners with all major hospitals and nursing homes in Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties. But with our seven  homelike hospice inpatient units and our ability to provide continuous care when appropriate, our goal whenever possible is to keep the patient comfortable at home or in a homelike environment.

11. What “extra” services does the hospice offer?

In addition to providing expert medical care; emotional and spiritual support; medications, medical supplies and equipment related to the patient’s terminal illness; and patient/family education, Chapters Health offers the following services:

  • Pediatric care,
  • Specialized care programs for patients with cardiovascular disease (At Home with CHF)
  • Specialized care programs for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (At Home with COPD),
  • Access to palliative therapies such as radiation, chemotherapy, cardiac and other infusions,
  • Ventilator withdrawal,
  • Bereavement counseling for individuals and families,
  • Support groups,
  • Annual grief camps for children, and
  • Special programs to honor veterans and their families.

12. How long has the hospice been operating in the community?

Originally established by community leaders in 1983, Chapters Health has provided quality, compassionate care to tens of thousands of its friends and neighbors over the years. The Chapters Health mission is to provide support and care for people in our community with or affected by advanced illness by offering a wide variety of compassionate health care choices. Our care is based solely on medical need, and we provide the same quality, comprehensive, compassionate care to everyone who could benefit from hospice care regardless of ability to pay, age, race, religion, lifestyle or disease.

13. How many patients at any one time are assigned to each hospice staff member who will be caring for the patient?

An individualized plan of care is developed for each patient and family based on their individual needs in consultation with the patient’s hospice attending physician and the hospice interdisciplinary team. Care and visits are guided by this plan and thus clinicians are not assigned a specific number of patients. Chapters Health follows the plan of care to address the patient’s and family’s physical, psychosocial, emotional and spiritual needs, discussing and addressing those needs regularly with the patient and family. All aspects of care are seamlessly coordinated and provided by the team, based on the needs of the patient and family.


14. What screening and type of training do hospice volunteers receive before they are placed with patients and families?

Before working with patients and families, Chapters Health volunteers undergo the same thorough Level II background and fingerprint check as Chapters Health employees. Volunteer orientation includes:

  • Areas of patient care,
  • Vision, mission and history of hospice,
  • Compliance,
  • HIPAA training, and
  • Grief support training.

15. How quickly can the intake/admissions staff come to begin the admissions process? Is someone available at nights or on weekends?

The goal for every referral to Chapters Health is same-day admission. The Patient Access team is available for admissions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

16. What is the organization’s governance structure?

Chapters Health is a not for profit, community-based organization, overseen by a Board of Directors representing the community.


The following are three additional questions suggested by Consumer Reports/American Cancer Society.

17. Is the hospice a not for profit with 20 or more years of service?

Yes. All of the affiliates of Chapters Health have been serving their communities for more than 30 years.

18. Does the hospice offer palliative care consultations and care for those who are not yet ready for hospice care?

Yes. Chapters Health Palliative Care offers consults at community hospitals, skilled nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in clinic settings.

19. Does the hospice explain patients' rights and responsibilities?

Yes. During the admission visit, a staff member reviews a document outlining a patient’s rights and responsibilities and obtains a signature confirming that the patient or the patient’s representative received a copy.


For additional information, please call our helpful Chapters Health System team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to [email protected]. 


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