SOLDOTNA (AP) -- Alaska has a second facility certified to provide Medicare-licensed hospice care.
Soldotna's 1st Choice Home Health Care Inc. became certified last month. The designation means 1st Choice patients will be able to utilize their Medicare benefits for hospice services, something that previously wasn't available on the Kenai Peninsula.
Although 1st Choice has been certified by Medicare to provide home health care since 1996, the hospice certification allows them to provide a much broader spectrum of services.
Some things not covered by Medicare under home health but covered under hospice benefits include chaplain services and bereavement services.
Most of the Hospice patients 1st Choice serves have terminal illnesses, such as cancer, that can be better attended to in a home environment. Some, however, need specialized care that before now couldn't be offered under Medicare outside a hospital setting.
Now, patients are able to receive 24-hour on-call nursing care without necessarily having to be in a hospital bed.
1st Choice co-owner Lori Brown said the best part of being Medicare certified is it allows 1st Choice to work with various health care groups, care providers and spiritual groups to serve patients in a hospice setting.
1st Choice works with other health care providers, including Central Peninsula General Hospital and Hospice of the Central Peninsula, to provide services. 1st Choice and Hospice of the Central Peninsula are always looking for volunteers, she said.
''If anyone is interested in the community with volunteering with any skill, whether it's art, music, massage therapy, they can contact us, and we'll work with them,'' she said. ''It's really a community team effort to provide the best end-of-life care possible.''
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