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Health Care
Jun 1, 2021

Be Informed – Know Your Hospice Benefit

Sponsored Content provided by Kelly Erola - Chief Medical Officer, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

Only 10 percent of our patients take advantage of their full Medicare hospice benefit. The Medicare hospice benefit includes ALL medical care, equipment, medications and visits related to the diagnosis. Because many patients are unaware of available funding, we go the extra mile to help ensure you’re getting the most out of your hospice benefit.

A brief overview of Medicare benefits

When you receive care from Lower Cape Fear LifeCare (formerly Lower Cape Fear Hospice), you are assigned a social worker who will work closely with you to help you maneuver through the often confusing waters of health care.

Original Medicare will cover everything related to your illness, but it is very important that you receive the care from a Medicare-approved hospice provider, such as Lower Cape Fear LifeCare. While we can examine the specifics of your plan with you, in general, Medicare should cover:

  • Doctor services
  • Nursing care
  • Medical equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs
  • Any medical supplies such as catheters or bandages
  • Prescription medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Hospice aide services
  • Social worker services
  • Short-term inpatient care
  • Short-term respite care
Who qualifies for hospice care?

Anyone who has a life-limiting illness with a life expectancy of six months or less can qualify as a hospice patient. Our patients have a wide variety of diagnosis, which include, but are not limited to:
  • Cancer
  • End-stages of chronic illnesses such as lung, heart, and kidney disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Strokes
  • ALS
  • Neurological diseases
Anyone can refer a patient to hospice—even the patient themselves.

Lower Cape Fear LifeCare is the hospice of choice for the region

We treat our patients with the care, concern and dignity that we would if they were members of our own family. We understanding that caring for a hospice patient also means helping the entire family, and that’s why we offer excellence in a wide scope of care, ranging from pain control to assisting with activities of daily living.

Some of the distinctives that separate us from other hospices are:
  • We are the area’s longest-operating nonprofit hospice.
  • Our Foundation enables us to offer care to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay.
  • We care for more than 6,000 families each year.
  • We are the only area hospice that has full-time physicians on staff.
  • Our clinical staff members have earned additional certification in hospice care and palliative care.
  • Patients have access to care workers 24/7 to address any critical situations that may arise. An on-call hospice nurse responds to each call.
See how we compare to other hospices in our area at Medicare @ Hospice Compare website. (due to our recent name change, look for us as Lower Cape Fear Hospice)

Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Hospice Care Centers

No other hospice provider in the region offers the level of care demonstrated by our inpatient hospice care centers. These three centers are centrally located in Wilmington, Whiteville and Bolivia and are available exclusively to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare patients.

“We want our patients to experience the best type of care with all the extras that we can provide for them to make their journey easier,” said Gwen Whitley, President and CEO.

We’re your leading community resource

We’re not just experts in navigating Medicare benefits—we serve as an educational resource for the community, offering seminars, grief support groups and other programs. If you aren’t sure if someone you love needs hospice care, we invite you to take this online assessment.

Don’t wait. Many of our families tell us they wish they had contacted hospice sooner.


Kelly Erola, MD, FAAHPM, FAAFP, is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, based in Wilmington, NC, where she has worked since 2017. Previously, she was Chief Medical Officer for Hospice Savannah, Inc. for 16 years and physician leader of the Steward Center for Palliative Care. Dr. Erola is board certified in hospice and palliative care medicine and has been involved full-time in palliative care since 2002.

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