April 17, 2016

A Life Worth Living

A neighbor of mine flew to a clinic in Switzerland to be euthanized. She had moved to Israel 18 months earlier to be close to her sister after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. What saddened me most was the extent of the hopelessness she must have been feeling. Those of us who have worked in hospice believe that hopelessness is related to fear — of the unknown, of pain, and of being a burden to others. Hospice’s goal is to try to alleviate these fears. We strive to recognize the source and treat the pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature. Our care however, is not only for the patient. We do all we can to support the patient’s family and friends so that they are better prepared to deal with the caring needs and, eventually, the loss of their loved one. Our hope is that by alleviating these fears the patients are able to spend meaningful time with those they love, so that they feel that whatever time they have left is worth living. One of our patients said that the best days of his life were the days he spent in hospice. He had a terrible childhood and was alienated from his family. He said that for the first time in his life he felt loved. If he had been euthanized when he was first diagnosed with cancer he would have died never having known what it is like to be loved. While this […]
April 17, 2016

Increased Scrutiny by Medicare is a Good Thing

As the director of a small non-profit hospice in Atlanta Georgia, I am concerned about the practice of hospice in this state. I am grateful for the increased scrutiny that we are under by Medicare because I am witness to the abuse of many of the larger for profit national chains whose marketing practices are questionably ethical. These practices contribute to the skyrocketing cost of medicine. The hospice lobbyists claim that it is much cheaper for the government to provide hospice care at the end of life rather than incur the costs of hospitalizations. This is absolutely true. However, this also provides the perfect foil for many of these providers to abuse the system. I commend MedPac’s (Medicare Political Action Committee) recommendation to investigate the marketing practices of hospices. I am appalled at the way some hospice representatives walk into assisted living facilities and promise the staff that, if they refer a minimum number of patients, they ( the hospice) will provide them with a fulltime nursing assistant. For assisted living facilities meant to provide assistance with activities of daily living this is an offer that is hard to refuse (and seldom is). Those of us who do not offer this are at a competitive disadvantage. This takes the choice away from the families because the assisted living facility will influence the referral based on their needs, not what is in the best interest of the patient/family. I say go OIG (Office of Inspector General), look closely at the conflict […]
September 8, 2015

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