Friday, June 6, 2008

Hospice: The Journey’s End

Hospice is one of the really humane programs in a health care system that sometimes seems to be more dollar oriented than patient oriented.

As a health care executive, I was active in the early days of the hospice movement. In the late 1970's, I was CEO of a hospital in Kansas City and Chairman of the Planning Committee to establish Kansas City Hospice as a joint project of four area hospitals. It's still going strong and I'm proud of the role I was able to play back then.

Since then, I've had personal experience as a beneficiary of hospice support for family members. My mother-in-law died in the early 1980's in a West Palm Beach, Florida hospice that eased her last days and assisted my wife and her sister to cope.

More recently, my mother received hospice services in her nursing home from Hospice of Michigan. I really appreciate the support HOM provided during her end stage and final passing.

Sometimes dying patients and their families are unaware of the availability of such services. All too often, their physicians need to be educated to refer the terminally ill for hospice care.

If you or a loved one is nearing the journey’s end and the doctor has not mentioned hospice, don’t be bashful. Take charge! Research your local hospice programs and make your own arrangements. You won’t be sorry.

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