Referring Your Patients to Hospice

Any person diagnosed with a life-limiting disease and whose life expectancy is measured in months is eligible for our hospice services. In most cases, hospice care can begin when curative treatment is no longer deemed effective or desirable.

Consultation with a hospice medical director is available at any time to assist in determining if hospice services are appropriate. Patients and families should feel free to explore the potential benefits of hospice care as well.

Hospice care focuses on the whole person and quality of life. The hospice team addresses pain and symptom control, as well as the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and family.

If you would like to receive a free hospice determination guidelines for your practice, please call 269.345.0273.

M. Raphelson M.D., Medical Director Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Email or call 269.345.0273.

Ronald Seagle M.D., Hospice Physician Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Email or call 269.345.0273.

Todd Welton D.O., Hospice Physician Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Email or call 269.345.0273.

Chris Bookheimer, Nurse Practitioner, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Email or call 269.345.0273.

Susan Wilson RN, Corporate Clinical Educator Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Email or call 269.345.0273.

Dr. Michael Raphelson, M.D.

Top-Ranked Reasons Physicians Refer to Hospice

  • “Hospice staff can better guide the patient and family through the dying process than I can.”
  • Pain control
  • Nursing support and psychological support
  • Request by patient or family member
  • Family not coping well
  • Access to benefits, such as home oxygen and durable medical equipment.

Brickner L, Scannell K, Marquet S, Ackerson L, Barriers to hospice care and referrals: survey of physicians’ knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions in a health maintenance organization, doi:10.1089/1096621041349518


When To Consider Hospice Care

  • The patient has sought treatment in an emergency room or been hospitalized for a disease-related episode twice in the past year.
  • Increasing number of calls and requests from family caregivers.
  • Family appears to be overburdened with or fatigued by caregiving.
  • After hospitalization, the patient is admitted to a nursing facility.
  • The patient has had a weight loss of 10 percent or more in the past six months.
  • The patient’s appetite has been steadily declining, unrelated to any other medical condition.

Arnold RL, Egan K, Breaking the bad news to patients and families: preparing to have the conversation about end-of-life care, Am J Geriatr Cardiol, 2004 Nov-Dec; 13(6); 307-312

The Benefits of Hospice

Hospice provides a comprehensive plan of care intended to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient. The hospice team includes the family in the plan of care and offers emotional and practical support during the patient’s illness and grief support after death.

  • Registered nurse visits
  • Registered nurse on-call availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Physician services
  • Social work services
  • Spiritual care services
  • Grief support services
  • Home health aide/homemaker services
  • Volunteer services
  • Prescription medications related to the terminal illness
  • Medical equipment and supplies related to the terminal illness
  • Respite care
  • Continuous crisis care
  • Payment accepted from all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid

Most of us have thought about our wishes for care at the end of life. But how many of us have shared our thoughts with those close to us?

If we want our wishes for our health care to be respected, then we need to discuss them with those we love and write them down in an advance directive.

Decisions about end-of-life care are very personal and are based on our past experiences, our values and our beliefs. It takes courage to talk about these issues, even with those closest to us. However, talking about our wishes can be truly meaningful and provide comfort for everyone involved.

First, you have to start the conversation. It may take more than one talk to create a shared understanding of what is most important to you. Family conflict and uncertainty at the end of life are not unusual, but with open communication and careful planning, your family can be prepared to respond to a crisis, knowing that they are honoring your final wishes. And you can change your wishes if your situation changes.

The final step is to share your advance directive with your primary care physician, so he or she understands your wishes and can work with you as your health changes. Physicians can also help answer any questions you have about medical interventions and options. Having your advance directive on file is added insurance that, in an emergency, your wishes will be followed.

So take the first step and start the conversation. It may well be one of the most important discussions you and your loved ones will ever have.


We serve everyone regardless of race, color, ethnic or religious background, national origin, citizenship, age, height, weight, disability, marital status, familial status, or gender and do not discriminate based on pregnancy, sex stereotyping, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law. ATTENTION: Language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1.269.345.0273, (TTY: 1.844.578.6563).

Our Mission is to guide and support individuals and their caregivers coping with illness, aging, dying, and loss by providing compassionate medical, emotional, spiritual, and personal care.