PNS Daily Newscast - April 24, 2019 

The Supreme Court considers U.S. Census citizenship question – we have a pair of reports. Also on the Wednesday rundown: A look at how poor teacher pay and benefits can threaten preschoolers' success. And the Nevada Assembly votes to restore voting rights for people who've served their time in prison.

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Hospice Patients Live Enhanced Lives When Care is Extended

Compassionate care through hospice can positively impact an individual's end-of-life options. (
Compassionate care through hospice can positively impact an individual's end-of-life options. (
October 17, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – People facing terminal illnesses frequently turn to hospice care, a combination of medical experts and pain management - as well as emotional and spiritual support - tailored to each patient's needs. According to new data, in 2015, more than 40 percent of Medicare patients received just 14 days of care or less.

Edo Banach, the president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, says hospice's interdisciplinary approach works best not just in the final days but over the last months of a patient's life.

"You really have an ability to begin to make some changes that are going to make people more comfortable," he says. "Less than that, you're really doing the best you can do, but you're not having as much of an impact on an individual's life and making their life as comfortable as it can be."

Banach explains it takes time for the team to work with patients, who may be transitioning from nursing homes, on what their wishes are - and to work with families - to put a plan in place for medications, counseling and bereavement services. The report found 46 percent of Medicare recipients received at least one day of hospice care at the time of death, but nearly three out of four received less than 90 days of care.

Banach says new strategies are needed to get more people the help they need when dealing with the physical and mental symptoms and disabilities that families can struggle with at the end of life. He notes the interdisciplinary hospice model, which provides not just medical care but psycho-social care as well, could become even more important as the nation grapples with mass shootings and climate change.

"And in this time when we're dealing with wildfires, and we're dealing with hurricanes, and we're dealing with opioid crises, I do want to think about how a model that provides for all those other services and provides bereavement services might have a really strong role to play in the future of healthcare in this country," he adds.

The report found that not all Americans benefit from hospice care equally. Banach notes African-Americans, in particular, continue to be underserved both in terms of the number of care-days and the number of patients receiving care.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM