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Former President Jimmy Carter remains in hospice care

The CEO of Empath Health says longer stays in hospice are not that unusual.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Former President Jimmy Carter went into hospice care the weekend of Feb. 20. That was 3 months ago. While that may seem like a long time to spend in hospice, it's not. 

At 98 years old, former President Carter entered hospice care, meaning he is being kept comfortable, but not getting interventional medical treatments to prolong his life.

We haven't been updated on President Carter's condition recently, but we do know that it's not abnormal for people to receive hospice care for months. Jonathan Fleece, the President and CEO of Empath Health in Clearwater, says the average time in hospice is 60-80 days.

"I think what President Carter has demonstrated is that the longer that a patient, the longer that a family can experience the wonderful gifts that a hospice mission can provide, it becomes so much more than just the medical care. We are there for the family to help with anticipatory grief, grief before a patient dies," Fleece said.

Hospice care is also covered by insurance or Medicare for up to 6 months. According to Fleece, many people wish they would have taken advantage of the services sooner since it helps prepare not just the individual, but families and loved ones for that end-of-life transition. 

"We're there to provide what we would call non-traditional complementary types of services that are so beautiful and so helpful at the end of life. Musical therapy, art therapy. We can work with the family on putting together memorabilia that's important. We've worked with couples for instance in the past that have written songs to each other," he explained.

And there are levels of hospice care ranging from in-home, which the majority of people choose so they can be in an environment they are familiar and comfortable with, to 24/7 in-patient care. 



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