About United Hospice | Frequently Asked Questions


When you or a loved one is facing a severe illness, it may seem like the endless questions are floating through your mind. United Hospice is here with answers. It’s never too early to contact us with your concerns.

General Hospice FAQs | Frequently Asked Questions

When should a decision about entering hospice care be made – and who should make it?

At any time during a serious illness, it is appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient or to the patient’s legal decision-maker, if the patient can no longer make decisions for him- or herself. A referral from a doctor is not necessary. The sooner hospice care begins, the sooner patients and their families can focus on enjoying the time they have together. United Hospice makes a positive difference for patients and their caregivers. United Hospice supports our patients’ decisions in seeking medical care. 

Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I suggest it first?

Don’t wait. Patients and families should feel free to begin a discussion about hospice care. You do not need a physician’s referral to call or enroll in hospice care. You can start with your physician(s) or other healthcare provider. You can also contact United Hospice and we can then contact your doctor on your behalf to get any of the medical documentation needed to be assessed for hospice eligibility. Feel free to call United Hospice at 845.634.4974 to discuss hospice care and get the answers to any specific questions you have. Remember, the patient can still be seen by his or her own physician while under hospice care. Contacting United Hospice is a positive step toward patient choice. 

What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?

Most physicians already know about hospice. If your physician wants more information about United Hospice they can speak with us by calling 845.634.4974. Additionally, it is important to note that a referral from a physician is not needed in order to elect hospice benefits. 

Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular treatment?

Yes. If the patient’s condition improves to the point that it changes the prognosis, the hospice must initiate dialogue with the patient and their family about discharge from hospice. You can then talk with your doctor about options to further treat the disease. If a discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, the patient will need to be reassessed for hospice services.  

How does the hospice admission process work?

One of the first things hospice will do is contact the patient’s physician to coordinate care for all patient needs and gather necessary information.  A skilled, specially-trained Registered Nurse will meet the patient where they are to complete a comprehensive assessment and based on that information, our Medical Director will make a determination of eligibility. United Hospice has a medical director available to serve as the attending physician for patients who may not have a physician. Next, the patient/legal decision-maker must sign a consent/benefit election form. The consent form states that the patient understands that the hospice care is palliative, which means that its goal is to control symptoms and relieve pain rather than to cure the disease. It also outlines the services available. Our team is available to answer any questions throughout the admissions process. 

Q: Do I need special equipment or need to make changes to my home before hospice care begins?

A: United Hospice will assess the patient’s needs. They will recommend any equipment or supplies as needed and arrange for you to get them seamlessly. Throughout a patient’s time on hospice, needs may change. United Hospice nurses will respond to our patient’s needs and ensure that equipment is seamlessly delivered and removed as necessary. 

How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

There is no set number. One of the first responsibilities the hospice team has is to prepare an individualized care plan that will include how much and what type of care the patient needs, among other things assessments. Hospice staff visits regularly and are always available to answer medical questions, provide support, and help arrangements for additional care. Hospice staff supports and educates all of the family members and other caregivers.  We are available 24 hours a day to provide guidance and support.  A nurse is only ever a phone call away. 

What specific assistance does hospice provide patients and their families?

Hospice patients and families receive services from a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. In addition, hospice provides medications, supplies, equipment, and inpatient services when needed. We are there for you and your loved ones with the support you need. 

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

No. This is a myth. To the contrary, there is evidence that suggests in some cases, the provision of hospice care extends the time patients have with family. Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. Hospice provides its specialized knowledge and support to patients and their families during a terminal illness. Our goal is to maximize the patient’s quality of life while reducing his or her pain and controlling symptoms. 

Is the patient’s home the only place hospice care is given?

No.  Hospice care can be provided in almost any living situation – a hospital, a personal residence, a nursing home, a family member’s home, an assisted living facility, or group home. United Hospice also provides hospice care at our Joe Raso Hospice Residence in New City, NY. Patients can receive hospice care wherever they choose.  

How does hospice manage pain and other symptoms?

Many factors influence when symptoms start or worsen. Physical, emotional, and spiritual factors may each play a role. All these factors are real and need attention. Our multi-disciplinary staff are experts in symptom management and are up-to-date on the latest methods used to relieve their patients’ suffering.

Most symptoms can be managed and patients kept comfortable with a combination of medications, non-drug treatments, like massage or music therapy, and counseling. 

Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what is happening?

Usually not. It is the goal of United Hospice to allow the patient to be pain-free but alert. By constantly consulting with the patient and physician, Hospice is usually very successful in reaching this goal. However, as the illness progresses, it is expected that regardless of the medications taken by a patient, they will be less awake/alert as they get closer to death. Our medication protocols are aimed at maximizing the quality of life for our patients. 

Is hospice affiliated with any religious organizations?

Hospice is not affiliated with any religion. While some churches and religions have started hospices (and sometimes in connection with religiously affiliated hospitals), these hospices serve a broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any set of beliefs. United Hospice offers spiritual care to people of all faiths, as well as those with no affiliation to a particular faith. 

Is hospice care covered by insurance?

Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health insurance policies. Please note: Medicare does not cover the room and board charge associated with the Joe Raso Hospice Residence. To ensure coverage, United Hospice will check with your health insurance provider and inform you of any charges. United Hospice provides care to patients, regardless of their financial and insurance situations. Our experienced team can answer any questions about your individual situation, don’t hesitate to call. 

If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?

The first assistance United Hospice provides is to determine whether the patient is eligible for any coverage. If the patient does not have any insurance coverage, our staff will do a financial assessment to determine any fees that the patient may be required to pay. United Hospice provides care throughout the Rockland and Orange County community regardless of ability to pay. 

Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?

United Hospice continues to support family and friends through our Hope & Healing Center for 13 months following the death of a loved one. United Hospice also provides bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced the death of a loved one. Our team is there to support you and your loved ones. 

How is hospice care different from other types of home health care?

There are a few distinct differences:

  • Quality of Life vs. Cure: For most health care providers, the goal is to get the patient well. Hospice focuses on maximizing the quality of life and support, rather than cure. United Hospice focuses treatment on the whole patient rather than just the disease. 
  • Interdisciplinary Team Approach: All members of the care team – nurses, social workers, bereavement counselors, spiritual care coordinators, home health aides, and volunteers – work together to coordinate care. This team supports you and your family. 
  • Family Focus: Hospice care focuses on the entire family. The hospice team teaches the family how to be involved in their loved one’s care. United Hospice works around the clock for our patients and their families because we know that time matters most. 

Hospice Residence FAQs

What is the Joe Raso Hospice Residence (JRHR)?

The Joe Raso Hospice Residence is a home-like setting designed to meet the needs of patients who are terminally ill but who cannot be cared for at home. 

We offer the full complement of United Hospice’s patient-centered care and services, including expert pain and symptom management, nursing care, assistance with the tasks of daily living, friendly visits from volunteers, and spiritual and psychosocial counseling for patients and their loved ones.  We offer individual bereavement counseling and support groups for surviving family members and loved ones.

United Hospice’s Joe Raso Hospice Residence is situated on 11 beautiful acres in New City, NY amidst a peaceful setting of gardens, streams, woodlands, wildlife, and a pond. Joe Raso Hospice Residence is ideally located for the patients we serve throughout Orange and Rockland counties. 

Who is eligible to come to the Joe Raso Hospice Residence?

Patients must meet hospice eligibility requirements. We will assess each patient’s medical, psychological and spiritual needs to ensure the highest level of care is provided. Our team of experts is available to help at any time. 

How many patients can be cared for at the Joe Raso Hospice Residence at a time?

There are 10 residential beds all of which can be converted to hospice general inpatient beds to fit the needs of our patients. General inpatient beds are designed and licensed for patients who require short-term acute care (symptom management). These beds can be filled either by a patient coming from the community setting or from the hospital for further acute care provided within the hospice framework. General inpatient status eligibility is determined by our medical director based on the medical needs of the patient. At times, caregiver respite needs are met for our community patients by having a community patient reside at the Joe Raso Hospice Residence at no additional cost to the patient. 

Each patient will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine our ability to meet their needs at the residence. The size and flexibility of the Joe Raso Hospice residence provides an intimate care setting, where patients needs are very well known and met with compassionate expertise and skill. 

Is care at Joe Raso Hospice Residence covered by insurance?

There are two charges for hospice residential care:

  • Room and board, which includes: 24-hour care and supervision by hospice staff, private room, accommodations for a family member to spend the night, meals, telephone, wireless internet service, cable TV and use of public areas inside and out, etc. This will be paid privately by the resident, their designee, or Medicaid (if eligible) that must be in place at time of admission. For those with commercial insurance and private long-term care insurance, we will explore the potential for coverage. Most private long-term care insurances require that the patient be billed first and pay, before being reimbursed by the insurance company. Our room and board fee is comparable to local area nursing homes, but provides a level of care and expertise that cannot be matched in other settings. When a patient receives an inpatient level of care, based on their medical needs, the entirety of their fees for that period of time is usually covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance. 
  • Daily Hospice Rate (medical/nursing care): Routine home care, or inpatient level of care as described above. When a patient is in a residential bed, their health insurance will be billed for routine home care which usually covers the traditional services provided in the community setting. 

Each patient served at the residence must sign an admission agreement indicating their willingness to accept financial responsibility for room and board payments. If a patient is unable to sign the document, a representative must sign and accept responsibility. A two-week deposit will be required and will be continued every two weeks thereafter. We accept credit cards.

Unlike nursing home care, which provides long-term service for individuals with chronic illness, residential and in-home hospice care is short-term care. Hospice care is designed for an individual who has an advanced illness and a life expectancy of less than six months.

If no rooms are available at the Joe Raso Hospice Residence, how do you determine who gets admitted next?

We have developed guidelines to help us make decisions.  They are based on our commitment to serve those most in need. Of course, all patients must be eligible to receive hospice care. Patients who are anticipated to have short stays are given priority so we can serve more individuals/families. United Hospice recognizes that the Joe Raso Hospice Residence is an invaluable resource in the Orange and Rockland County community and we strive to meet every need possible. 

 We admit:

  • Patients already in an inpatient bed, requiring a residential bed. 
  • Current hospice patients who are no longer safe at home. 
  • Current hospice patients in the hospital who cannot return home.
  • Hospitalized patients who are not on hospice care but needs residential care.
  • Patients in the community who are not on hospice care but need residential care.
  • Patients transferring from some type of facility (nursing home, assisted living) within Orange or Rockland County.
  • Someone requiring residential care who does not live in Orange or Rockland County but has family living in Orange or Rockland.
  • Someone requiring residential care who does not live in Orange or Rockland County and does not have family residing in Orange or Rockland County.

Q: Who do I contact if a loved one or I am interested in receiving care at United Hospice’s Joe Raso Hospice Residence?

A: You can reach out to our Help Center any time at 845-634-4974. The Help Center staff can answer your questions. If you have questions about insurance coverage or other financial concerns, they will work with our finance department to clarify what is required and coordinate that piece of the admission process.

Patients receiving hospice services in the community should direct questions about admission to Joe Raso Hospice Residence to one of their current hospice team members. We are here to support you in your decisions for your care and that of your loved one. 

Are there specific days or times when patients are admitted to Joe Raso Hospice Residence? How does the person get to the Residence?

Admissions are scheduled with patients/families and other referral sources, such as discharge planners, case managers, etc. We try to be as flexible and accommodating as possible, but many factors play a role in scheduling admissions that are beyond our control including hospital discharge times and medical transportation schedules.  Transportation is based on the patient’s needs and arranged on a case-by-case basis. Our expert care for our patients starts as soon as they come through our door. 

What are the "house rules"?

United Hospice and our Joe Raso Hospice Residence strive to honor the diverse needs of our patients and their families. But, we do have a few of the “house rules” to ensure that everyone comfortable:

  • There is no smoking in the residence. There is safe outdoor space designated for smoking. 
  • We have a dedicated chef on site. Meals are customized to the needs and preferences of each resident. Pantry areas, both kosher and non-kosher, enable family members to bring and store food from home. A microwave is available for patient and family use. Snacks and beverages are provided for patients and visitors. Local menus and delivery services are kept on hand for the family’s convenience.
  • Children are welcome visitors and must always be supervised by an adult. We have games, books and other activities available for their use.
  • Pets are allowed to visit, but must be leashed and supervised by the person who brings them at all times.

What of security precautions are in place?

The security of our patients, their families, and our staff is paramount to us. For example, outside doors are programmed to lock at a designated time. Entry points have video intercoms so that staff can see and speak to the person at the door before giving them access. In addition, security cameras are in place in strategic locations. 

It is never a mistake to call hospice.

It’s a positive step toward the assistance you need when time matters most.