The Aroostook House of Comfort (Aroostook Hospice Foundation) and Northern Light Home Care & Hospice team members recently welcomed Senator King for a tour and discussion around the needs of those facing the final stage of their lives. The medical staff of Northern Light Home Care & Hospice, along with Aroostook Hospice Foundation Board members and volunteers, gave Senator King valuable input regarding Medicare and the hospice benefit, as well as workforce concerns. The unique relationship between Northern Light Home Care & Hospice and The Aroostook Hospice Foundation was also discussed. The Aroostook House of Comfort, owned by the Aroostook Hospice Foundation, is the only freestanding inpatient hospice and respite facility north of Lewiston/Auburn.
Dr. David Jones, Medical Director for Northern Light Home Care & Hospice, led a discussion with Senator King concerning the need for Medicare to consider amending the hospice benefit. Proposed changes would allow an inpatient or home hospice patient who has had their symptoms controlled but are within 2-4 weeks of death to remain or enter into an inpatient hospice facility. The current benefit considers control of symptoms as representing stability, even if a patient is dying. This definition of stability necessitates discharge from an inpatient hospice unit or the inability to be admitted to a hospice facility from home other than a five-day respite. America is aging, Maine is the oldest state in the country, and families often do not have the physical or emotional ability to care for loved ones at the end of life.