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Rising hospice care concerns?Submitted: 02/19/2014
Story By Kalia Baker


WOODRUFF - By 2015, 3 out of 10 people in Wisconsin will be considered part of the aging population.

But the issue of whether or not hospice facilities are draining Medicare for a profit is a nationwide issue.

"When those articles came out, those national articles, we were upset and hurt," said Leslie Schmidt, admissions coordinator at Seasons of Life Hospice Care. Unfortunately, our agency gets lumped into and we are very proud of what we do here at Ministry [Health Care]."

Schmidt is talking about a recent Wsshington Post article that states, "the number of "hospice survivors" in the United States has risen dramatically, in part because hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren't actually dying."

Schmidt believes that accusation spoils the benefit of hospice care.

"It creates an inherit distrust for the services that are provided, that are legitimate, caring services that are provided by people who do good work, said Schmidt."

Some hospice patients are sent home because their Medicare benefits are revoked.

"That's why Medicare has very clearly defined guidelines of what the last six months of someone's life looks like."

Schmidt doesn't deny that Medicare fraud in the hospice care industry exists, but she doesn't want that to take away from good work that hospice care providers do.

"[Those] kinds of stories in particular are stories of interest. In that story, the people and the agencies that do good work, which are following the rules of Medicare, and other insurance programs get lost."

It's possible that the meaning of hospice is changing. Fewer people are dying in hospice care, but more people are relying on it.

"The biggest misconception is that hospice is a place that people go to at the end of life," said Melissa Salaam, who is the patience care supervisor at Ministry. Really, what it is, is the hospice teams comes to them, wherever they call home."

For registered nurse Chris Reed-Roeser, being a hospice caregiver is a dignified job to have.

"There are two things that I feel are the best part of my job. One being; that I work with an awesome group of people. I work with people who feel the same passion about end of life care as I do," said Reed-Roeser. "Secondly, going home at night and just knowing that you made a difference."








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 IN OTHER NEWS

STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings.  The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.

Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest.  Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair.  The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing.  Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.

If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.

You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.

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MADISON - Damage caused by flooding in Wisconsin already is getting close to $10 million dollars.

Wisconsin emergency management workers provided the estimate on damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure.

In an update Tuesday night, the State Emergency Operations Center put the damage to homes and businesses at over $1.6 million dollars.

Damage to public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and trails, has reached over $8 million dollars.

The numbers should go higher, as some counties are still not reporting.

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BOULDER JUNCTION -
The Boulder Junction Town Board voted two to one Tuesday night to move forward with a town plaza plan. The plan will now go to a design phase. 

The board estimated the cost of the design phase to be between $30,000 to $50,000, but it was dropped to about $25,000 at the meeting.

Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and Town Supervisor Dennis Duke voted in favor, with Town Supervisor Denny McGann voting against the plan. 



A little more than $1 million may not seem like a lot of money to a city like Madison or Milwaukee. But for a town of fewer than one thousand people, it's a lot. The Boulder Junction Town Board could vote Tuesday whether or not to move onto the next phase of a $1.26 million town plaza project. 

Dennis Duke has a vision of what Boulder Junction could look like in a few years. 

"This one has a much more artistic flair, this has a more engineering flair if you will," said Duke while looking at potential design plans. 

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MILWAUKEE - Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence is meeting with campaign volunteers in Wisconsin, including Gov. Scott Walker's son.

Pence stopped by a Republican campaign headquarters outside of Madison Tuesday after spending the afternoon with Walker preparing for his debate next week with Democrat Tim Kaine.

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RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday.
It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.

The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office.
To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.

"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.

Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence.
The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.

"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.

The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.

Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.

If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.



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TOWN OF LITTLE RICE - Dennis Schoeneck's pickup truck sloshes through muddy logging roads these days.  But he'd prefer it if a much larger truck could even make it down the path.

"Heck, I think you could spit and make mud here," the Enterprise Forest Products owner said Tuesday morning.

Foot-deep ruts make up most of the logging road leading back to 23 acres of private land the long-time logger harvests in the western Oneida County town of Little Rice.  Schoeneck started logging professionally in 1979 and says 2016 has been "exceptionally wet" compared to any other year.

"The old adage, make hay while the sun shines, that's not just for farmers," Schoeneck said.  "That's for us too."

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MANITOWOC - The U.S. Coast Guard says the body of a missing sailor may have been found on a beach in Manitowoc County.

The body was found Tuesday near private property near the town of Clover, south of Manitowoc. A medical examiner is at the beach, which is blocked off.

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