Western PA Healthcare News

February 4th, 2014 by Gateway Hospice

Providing Quality End of Life Care to Families in Western PA

December 23, 2013  by Leave a Comment

By Kathleen Ganster

It is easy to think about only the patient when hospice care enters the picture, but care involves so much more. It involves care of the loved ones close to the patient.

And that includes of course, providing their loved one with the best possible medical care, but also paying attention to their needs.

When the Hondal and Waseleski family had to obtain hospice care services for their wife and mother, Eleanore, Gateway Hospice led the way for the family through this phase of her life.

“We couldn’t have done it without them. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but they walked the walk, not just talked,” said Saundra Waseleski, daughter of Eleanore.

Eleanore had suffered from Alzheimer’s for years, but she was able to remain at home, cared for by her beloved husband, Joe.

“Then my mom lost her ability to walk and was admitted to the hospital for tests,” Waseleski said. It was the beginning of a difficult stage for the family as Eleanore’s health deteriorated and they realized they needed more assistance to keep her at home for the remaining stage of her life, something important to the family.

Recommended by the family’s physician, Gateway Hospice met with the family while Eleanore was still hospitalized.

“The social worker paid us a visit and explained the philosophy of hospice, the services available to Mom through Gateway, and the roles of the various caregivers who we would come to know in the weeks ahead,” she said.

That referral by their physician made a world of difference to the family.

“We arranged for their services – a very easy process – and they were there as soon as we brought Mom home to the house she loved,” Waseleski said.

While the family had developed routines to help her mother with coping with Alzheimer’s before her health deteriorated, now they had to learn a whole new wealth of skills and create new routines. The nurses, social worker and other Gateway Hospice employees lead the way.

The nurse helped Waseleski and her father learn how to care for Eleanore including proper wound care, giving personal care and even preparing food the correct consistency.

“Who knew there were different consistencies of pureed food,” Waseleski laughed.

The social worker helped them with the other sides of care.

“She helped us walk though the services Mom would receive and she reminded us that, in addition to the visits by nurses, aides, social worker and chaplain, Gateway was only a call away if we had a question or an emergency,” she said.

Waseleski said the initial hours after her mother was released from the hospital were “mentally exhausting for Dad and me.”

Having the Gateway team next to them made the whole process easier.

“Through those first hours, the social worker was extraordinarily comforting, demonstrating care for all of us and a willingness to answer any questions that we had,” she said.

The visit from the Gateway Chaplin the next day helped ease their minds in other ways.

“We were appreciative of the spiritual care and comfort he provided,” Waseleski said.

As Eleanore’s final phase of life progressed, the family came to know and depend on the Gateway Hospice caregivers as they became part of the new routine of care.

“Everyone from Gateway was extremely respectful of how life was changing for everyone in our family unit,” she said.

And while the care of her mother was the most important focus of the hospice care, the care and attention to her father, her brother Tim, and herself were also important.

“They were obviously very skilled, but what stood out were their empathy, their patience, their sensitivity and their willingness to listen,” she said.

The caregivers became an integral part of their lives during the last two months of Eleanore’s life.

“We looked forward to their visits. We needed their reassurance, their professionalism and their grounded conversation,” said Waseleski.

In her words, they became part of the family.

“They became our newest family members, one who primarily cared for Mom, but who, by extension, cared for us as well,” she said.

When Mrs. Hondal died on January 18th, the Gateway Hospice caregivers assisted the family through yet another difficult time. “Our night nurse helped us through the next few hours and helped us deal with our tears and the tasks at hand – she even called the funeral director. We didn’t know what to do,” she said.

A year later, Waseleski said that the bereavement care was also an important service for the family. As she looks back at that phase in her family’s life, she realizes the impact those caregivers had made in their lives.

“We have made a place for them in all of our hearts. Gateway helped us through one of the most difficult parts of lie,” she said, “They are exceptional human beings and professionals.”

For more information on Gateway Hospice services visit www.gatewayhospice.com or 412-536-2020.

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Paying for End of Life Care

December 15th, 2013 by Gateway Hospice

Paying for End-of-Life Care

How to pay for the rising costs of health care?  Concerns over these costs are shared not only by elected officials but by almost every family across the country. Many baby boomers are providing care for their aging parents just as they are facing their own health care issues.

Yet, for almost 30 years, the Medicare Hospice Benefit has provided a model for financing end-of-life care that can bring great relief and support to families during one of life’s most difficult times.

This benefit covers virtually all aspects of hospice care with little out-of-pocket expense to the patient or family. As a result, the financial burdens often associated with caring for a terminally-ill patient are lifted.

Hospice care also offers supports to the loved ones of the patient; this brings an added level of relief to the dying person, knowing their loved ones are being cared for as well.

Hospice is paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid Hospice Benefit, and most private insurers. In addition, most private health plans and Medicaid in 47 States and the District of Columbia cover hospice services. If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, hospices will work with the person and their family to ensure needed services can be provided.

Medicare covers these hospice services and pays nearly all of their costs:

  • Doctor services
  • Nursing care
  • Medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers)
  • Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters)
  • Drugs for symptom control and pain relief
  • Short-term care in the hospital, including respite and inpatient for pain and symptom management
  • Home health aide and homemaker services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Social work services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Grief support


Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that aren’t related to a terminal illness.

Hospice and palliative care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Families making end-of-life decisions for a loved one need compassion and support, not financial worries. The Medicare Hospice Benefit helps alleviate these concerns.

To learn more, contact Gateway Hospice 1-877-878-2244 – www.gatewayhospice.com or visiting Caring Connections at www.caringinfo.org or call the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.

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November 27th, 2013 by Gateway Hospice


Gateway Hospice & The Hill House Health Center Give Back!

November 26th-1:00- Hill House Health Center- 1835 Centre Ave. Pittsburgh, PA

Gateway Hospice is celebrating this Thanksgiving season by giving back to the local community. Gateway donated gift cards and turkeys for families identified by the Hill House Health Center. “Our hope is to take away some of the worry and stress that these families face daily and allow them to focus on what Thanksgiving is all about… enjoying time with our friends and families”- Marcie Brown, LSW/ACHP – Gateway Hospice. Gateway provides ongoing support to the Hill House Health Center and those they serve throughout the entire year with the help of Kim Spruce, Outreach Coordinator, Hill House Health Center. Hill House Health Center is a subsidiary of Primary Care Health Services, Inc. a Federally Qualified Health Care provider. Click on above link to see video!

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Facts everyone should know about hospice

November 22nd, 2013 by Gateway Hospice

Facts about Hospice Care Everyone Should Know


Hospice isn’t a place. It’s a type of care that focuses on living…living as fully as possible, up until the end of life. Hospice brings comfort, love, and respect to the patients and families they care for.
Considered to be the model for high-quality, compassionate care at the end of life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to care that includes expert medical care, pain-and-symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support. All care is expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes.


Hospice offers the services and support that Americans want when coping with a serious or life-limiting illness.


The goal of this type of care is to treat the person instead of the disease, and focus on the family caregivers, not just the individual.  The quality of life is emphasized, not its duration.


Just the Facts: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports:

  • Hospice usage in the U.S. is growing. Every year, more than 1.65 million Americans with life-limiting illness are cared for by the nation’s 5,100 hospice providers.

  • The median length of service for hospice patients is 19.1 days (half of patients receive care for more days, half of patients receive care for fewer days).   Yet, more than 35 percent of patients die or are discharged in seven days or less – too short a time to benefit from the full ranges of services a hospice can offer.

  •  Cancer accounts for less than 38 percent of hospice patients – which surprises many people who mistakenly think hospice only serves cancer patients. The five other leading diagnoses are: heart disease, debility, dementia (this includes Alzheimer’s disease), lung disease, and stroke.

  • Hospice is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs and other managed care organizations.

  • An estimated 450,000 trained volunteers contribute more than 21 million hours of service every year.

  • Research shows that 8 out of 10 Americans would want to stay in their homes surrounded by family and loved ones if they were faced with a life-limiting illness. Hospice makes this happen.   


For more information, contact Gateway Hospice 1-877-878-2244 – www.gatewayhospice.com, call the NHPCO HelpLine at 800-658-8898, or visit www.caringinfo.org

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Fact & Figures- NHPCO

November 15th, 2013 by Gateway Hospice

For Immediate Release: November 6, 2013

NHPCO Releases Updated Report “Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America”

Hospice patients with short period of service continues to be a concern

(Alexandria, Va) – The number of Americans taking advantage of the compassionate care hospice offers families coping with a life-limiting illness holds steady – an estimated 1.5 to 1.6 million patients in 2012 – reports the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

While many Americans are taking advantage of hospice care services, NHPCO continues to be concerned about the number of patients who experience these services for a short period of time.  In 2012, 35.5 percent died or were discharged within seven days of admission, a statistic consistent with the previous year.

The unique inter-disciplinary team of hospice is equipped to aid patients through the last months of life.  Earlier access to hospice care can reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations; additionally, quality of life for patients and family caregivers can be greatly improved.

NHPCO has released the new edition of its report, Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America.  The PDF is available on the NHPCO website.

“As hospice and palliative care professionals, we need to continue reaching out to patients and family caregivers to help them understand all the benefits that hospice care brings,” said J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD, NHPCO president and CEO.  “And as part of our ongoing engagement efforts, we must continue our efforts to reach communities that are under-utilizing hospice care.”

NHPCO’s annual publication Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America reports on hospice trends and provides updated information on the growth, delivery, and quality of hospice care in the U.S.

Representative statistics from the new report:

  • Median length of service was 18.7 days.
  • 79.9 percent of patients received care for less than 90 days.
  • Those receiving care for more than 180 days accounted for 11.5 percent.
  • Cancer was the most common diagnoses accounting for 36.9 percent of patients.
  • 66 percent of care took place in the place the patient called home; and 27.4 percent took place in a hospice inpatient facility.
  • Medicare paid for 89 percent of care provided.

Hospice provides high quality medical care and services from an interdisciplinary team of professionals and trained volunteers that maximizes quality of life and makes the wishes of the patient a priority.

More information about hospice and advance care planning is available from NHPCO’s Caring Connections, caringinfo.org.

At Gateway Hospice Our Team Makes the Difference!

September 18th, 2012 by Gateway Hospice

What Families are saying about Gateway Hospice…

“I could not ask for better care. They all were kind and wonderful to my mom and our family. I will always be grateful for your hospice organization. Thank you all so much!”
– Beaver County Family

“We felt like we were being visited by a relative or close friend each time we greeted any member of the hospice team into our home. At the same time, each was totally professional and competent.”
-Allegheny County Family

“I cannot give enough praise to the team who took care of my husband. They were kind and gentle. They were just as concerned about me as they were my husband. On the last morning when I called as he was dying, the nurse was here in ten minutes! She stayed with me until the funeral home came.”
– Washington County Family

“The whole team was GREAT when caring for both of my parents.”
-Beaver County Family

“I cannot express strongly enough how wonderful my mother’s hospice team was, including the chaplain. There were caring and informative and a ‘God Send’ to our family. They kept us informed on a daily basis and formed a bond with our mom that made her feel at peace and comfort. The chaplain formed a personal and spiritual bond with her that she loved and looked forward to each visit. They all treated her with respect and kindness and went, we believe, above and beyond anything we could have hoped for.”
-Washington County Family

If you’d like to share your experience with Gateway Hospice, we’d love to hear it! Feel free to leave a comment or email us at info@gatewayhospice.com.

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