We pride ourselves on caring for all who need us, regardless of that patient’s diagnosis or ability to pay.
Hospice Austin has seen a 55% increase in the days of care provided to patients with no insurance or other sources of funding compared to the same time period last year. For-profit hospices accept very few unfunded patients and even other nonprofit hospices in the state limit the amount of charity care they can provide. Hospice Austin has never had to limit those who need our services but can’t pay for it, thanks to the generosity of our community and to the number of patients with funding that we serve. We are committed to our mission of providing care for everyone. Here are stories from just two of these patients.
A patient came in to Hospice Austin’s Christopher House who was not able to eat and was nonverbal except to say “yes” “no,” and “whoops.” He had no family that anyone knew of. Hospice Austin’s Christopher House RN and Team Leader Keisha Jones realized he could swallow and asked him if he was hungry. They gave him some soft buttery mashed potatoes and he loved it! He wanted mashed potatoes for every meal. Our chaplain made cards for him to point to in order to communicate; one of our CNAs who had a barber’s license cut his hair; staff played music for him.
One day, Keisha was at home on Facebook and saw a high school friend’s post: “I miss being with my family and wish I could find out where my cousins are.” This person listed three names and one of them was the same name as our patient. Keisha went to Christopher House and showed the patient the photo on her phone – and it was his cousin! He was crying and reaching for her phone. Keisha called the Facebook poster and said, “I think I found your cousin. Do you want to come here to verify it’s him?” The patient cried and cried – the cousins found each other and he was also able to reunite with his sisters, which led to him finding a place to live.
We have a 33-year-old patient who is in a coma with anoxic brain damage. His wife has been managing his care while raising three children and holding down two jobs. She works in the service industry, so when the pandemic hit, the family’s income was totally wiped out.
When restaurants started to open back up, the patient’s wife was met with the difficult choice of whether to return to work and possibly expose her husband (who has struggled with respiratory problems and pneumonia) to the virus, or to leave her family without a source of income. She returned to work.
Using our Special Needs Fund, we were able to assist them with their rent so that the family doesn’t fall into a debt they won’t be able to recover from. We have also been able to provide consistent nutritional support for this family through our food pantry.
Because this family is unfunded, the level of care needed to meet the patient’s complex medical needs would not be available without support from Hospice Austin.
Last year, we provided over $1 million in care to patients with no other source of funding. It is an honor to care for these patients.
“Our mission is clear,” said Hospice Austin Executive Director Marjorie Mulanax. “We care for everyone.”