Why does Covenant Hospice Hold Fundraisers?

Submitted by Covenant Hospice Philanthropy Department

Covenant holds fundraisers because the idea of a partnership between healthcare providers and voluntary efforts is built into the structure of the Hospice Medicare Benefit, which serves as the model for most hospice funding in this country. Many of the first hospices were entirely staffed by volunteers, with the philosophy that dying is a part of life, not just a medical procedure requiring professional intervention. Early founders believed that families, churches, and other naturally occurring community groups should be involved in major life cycle events. In fact, in order to receive Medicare funding, a hospice has to assure that at least 5% of patient care responsibilities are assumed by volunteers. The importance of financial support from the community flows out of this basic orientation.

Hospice is funded differently from most other healthcare services. Rather than being paid separately for each service we provide to patients and their families, we receive a fixed amount of money for every day that a patient is enrolled in hospice care. Out of that “per diem” or “by the day” amount, we are expected to pay for all costs related to the life-limiting illness. This includes not only the ‘medical” services which insurance usually covers, such as a physician, nurses, a social worker, hospice health aides, medications, and medical equipment; but also related non-medical services, such as a chaplain or other counselor, a volunteer, specialized services for such groups as children and adolescents, and bereavement for family and significant others for at least thirteen months after the death of the patient.  Hospices are required to provide all of these, though reimbursement stops with the death or discharge of the patient.

Providing care for people without insurance is also part of the basic hospice mission, as well as offering education to the professional and lay communities on issues related to palliative care, pain control, the interaction of chronic illnesses, grief and loss issues, and related topics that are not currently part of the education of most healthcare professionals. We raise money to pay for coordination of care and for all of additional costs. The major areas to which donations, grants, and fundraising income go are:

  • Our Indigent Care Program, which allows anyone to receive hospice care, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for services. Costs over-runs for individual patients who have insurance, but whose medications, equipment, or intensity of care needs are greater than average and exceed the Medicare or other daily reimbursement.
  • Our Bereavement Program, which offers individual and group support, Remembrance Ceremonies, and educational material on grief and loss to the loved ones of people who died in our care or to members of the community.
  • Our Children and Family Support Services Program, which offers individual and group support to children and adolescents, as well as specialized support opportunities, like Camp Monarch and Butterfly Bags, which help parents respond to their children’s concerns after a loss. Needs of children or adolescents with chronic illnesses in our Partners in Care/Together for Kids Program when they exceed the reimbursement available for the individual.
  • Our Chaplains Program, which offers non-denominational spiritual support to any of our patients and families, as well as such specialized services as funerals. Covenant Hospice has always enjoyed a very supportive community that is willing to partner with us in taking care of these extra costs so that everyone in our 30 counties has access to high-quality care at the end of life, whether there is insurance reimbursement or not.

Models like hospice are increasingly important in the new healthcare environment, which will depend on volunteerism, public-private partnerships, care coordination, and an awareness of how to control costs and improve service at the same time. Covenant Hospice is great at this, but only with your help.  If you would like to support Covenant Hospice with a donation, you can do so through our secure site or by contacting us at (850) 438-9714, or consider attending one of our many fantastic fundraising events.  There are exciting events coming up in many of our service areas! Your support means so much to us.

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