Tennessee Valley Healthcare System
Hospice and Palliative Care
PALLIATIVE MEDICINE MISSION
Our mission is to provide a continuum of Palliative Care, using a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to ensure a nurturing environment for Veterans and their families as they experience serious and advanced illness.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative Care is specialized medical care that utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach to provide an extra layer of care and support to patients and families who are facing serious illness. Palliative Care teams work in collaboration with a patient’s primary doctor or hospital team to focus on providing optimal relief from the symptoms and stresses that often accompany serious illnesses, assisting with complex medical decision making and facilitating discussions of patients’ and families’ goals for their care.
What are Palliative Care Services?
- Symptom Management
- We provide expert management of the distressing symptoms that are often associated with serious illness (i.e. pain, shortness of breath, nausea, anxiety and constipation). We engage early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies intended to cure and prolong life (chemotherapy, radiation therapy) to optimize symptom management throughout the course of treatment.
- Patient and Family Support
- We explore support systems to help patients live as actively and independently as possible and maximize their dignity and quality of life.
- We offer a holistic approach to care with integrated psychological and spiritual support.
- We assist patients and families in discussions of complex medical decisions, navigating treatment choices and ongoing discussion of goals of care.
- Advance Care Planning
- We assist patients in planning ahead for their healthcare and identify a person who would speak on their behalf (healthcare surrogate) if they are unable to do so.
Who is the Palliative Care Team?
Palliative Care Physicians
Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners
Chaplain / Spiritual Care
Palliative Care Nurses
Frequently Asked Questions about Palliative Care
Is palliative care the same as hospice?
- No. Palliative Care is a medical specialty that is available at any stage of a person’s serious illness to add an extra layer of care and support, to help manage pain and other symptoms and assist with ongoing discussion of goals of care.
Is palliative care covered by insurance?
- Yes. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans cover palliative care services.
Does Palliative Care replace my current treatment or require me to change doctors?
- No. The doctors you have now will continue to direct your care. The Palliative Care team will work in partnership with your current providers.
Useful palliative care information and resources:
To learn more about palliative care, talk to your healthcare provider.
What is Hospice?
Hospice is a philosophy of care that offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary comfort focused care to people with terminal illness whose life expectancy is estimated to be 6 months or less. This service can be provided in multiple settings, including the patient’s home, a hospice residence, a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility.
Hospice is normally recommended when patients have illnesses that have progressed to end-stage and curative therapy is no longer effective or appropriate. At this time, the patient and family may wish to focus on comfort, improving the quality of life and seeking expert symptom management at the end-of-life. The aim of Hospice is to assist the patient and family to be as comfortable and peaceful as possible on this journey and to support the family after the death of their loved one.
Who is Eligible for Hospice?
Any enrolled Veteran who has a life limiting illness and meets hospice enrollment criteria is eligible for hospice services. Your team will assess for hospice eligibility. The Veteran and/or family may then elect hospice care.
Hospice Certification Process:
After a patient has been evaluated and meets hospice eligibility criteria, the Palliative Care provider will certify that the patient is terminally ill and will likely live 6 months or less, if the disease runs its normal course.
There are times when a person lives longer than the expected 6 months and at that time the hospice agency will complete a recertification/assessment to determine if the patient remains eligible for hospice care.
The Palliative Care physician will make a referral to the Community Health Team, who will make a referral to an appropriate hospice agency.
Who pays for Hospice?
Hospice services can be paid for in several ways:
Medicare – Part A: Medicare Part A covers 100% of hospice services.
Health Care Plans: Most insurance providers offer some coverage for hospice services. The hospice agency will contact your insurance provider to determine coverage.
VA Benefits: If the Veteran does not have insurance, the VA will pay for hospice benefits.
What does Hospice Cover?
- After the patient is enrolled in hospice, the agency provides a multi-disciplinary team (MD, RN, Hospice Aides, Social Worker, Spiritual Care) to provide direct care and 24/7 on-call availability.
- Hospice covers all medications related to patient’s admitting diagnosis.
- All other medications that the patient may be receiving for other health issues can be refilled by contacting their primary care provider. The hospice agency will assist with the process.
- When a Veteran is enrolled in hospice care, it does not mean that the Veteran has to give up their VA Benefits. The Veteran may continue to come to other medical specialty appointments or to the VA hospital if they choose to continue to do so.
The Hospice Team:
Our experienced multi-disciplinary hospice tea includes a Physician, Physician’s Assistant, Clinical Pharmacist, Psychologist, Social Worker, Chaplain, Nutritionist, Nurses and Nurse’s Aides. The hospice team provides:
- Ongoing expert symptom management
- Meticulous attention to personal care needs assistance with feed ing and nutrition
- Ongoing emotional and spiritual support for patients and families
- Bereavement services for families
Hospice Unit at VA Murfreesboro Campus:
Tennessee Valley Healthcare System has a well-established In-Patient Hospice Unit at the Alvin C. York Campus in Murfreesboro, Tennessee that has been providing excellent hospice care since 1995. The Hospice Unit has 12 private beds and 4 Palliative Care beds. This unit provides comprehensive end-of-life care for Veterans and ongoing support and education for families. A family member is welcome to stay overnight and visitors, including children are welcome anytime.
Is Palliative Care the same as Hospice?
- No. Hospice care is available to patients who have progressed to the end stages of illness when curative efforts are no longer helping. Hospice is a specialized approach to end-of-life care when the goals have shifted to comfort and supportive care.
Useful hospice information and resources
Palliative Care: Nashville Campus
Hospice Beacon Unit: York Campus
Hours of Operation
- M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.