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The Quality of Hospice Care - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

The Quality of Hospice Care

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Each year in the United States more than one million people die in hospice services. Hospice exists to provide comfort for those nearing the end of life. A new Huffington Post article "How Dying became a Multibillion Dollar Industry" examines the hospice care across the nation and it shows issues with quality of care regarding inspections North Dakota and Minnesota.

According to the Huffington Post, quality of care is impacted because hospices services in the area are only inspected every four to five years. North Dakota has just 11 hospice organizations, which means only about two to three are inspected each year. Hospice of the Red River Valley serves 29 counties in Minnesota and North Dakota. They were last inspected in 2010 and say they welcome more oversight but state funds just aren't there.

"Unfortunately at this time there is not a budget in place for the states to do that, and so we believe being surveyed more often is beneficial for us because we correct things as ongoing," says Hospice of the Red River Valley Director of Clinical Operations Rebecca Svaleson.  

During their last inspection, Hospice of the Red River Valley had seven violations, all related to either paperwork problems or employee training. They say the issues were quickly corrected and the organization now uses a self-inspection system in lieu of regular state inspections.

Officials with the state of North Dakota say that in addition to not having enough funding, they don't make the decisions about who gets inspected.

"In the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid mission document we get each year, it tells us what our work load is. It has been like that since I managed the program for the last 10 to 15 years. I don't know why it is. Its just been the same for a long time," says North Dakota Department of Health Director of Health Facilities Bruce Pritschet.

Hospice of the Red River Valley suggests that patients research and understand what hospice is, adding, it is more than just those final days.

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