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  • Writer's pictureDr. Robert Ancker, MD FAAFP FAAHPM

Hospice Opens the Possibilities of Care for the People We Love

elderly man with cane holding hands with nurse wearing scrubs

Hospice is a relatively new discipline in the healthcare field, only having been in the United States since the 1970s. Its recent arrival combined with a focus on end-of-life care has created significant stigma towards the word “hospice.” With President Jimmy Carter announcing his decision to enter hospice care, hospice has found its way into the current public discourse, providing the space for healthcare professionals to further discuss the definition of hospice and its transformative effect on a patient’s end-of-life journey.

Hospice focuses on comfort for patients nearing the end of their lives, alleviating pain and physical symptoms rather than curing them through further diagnostics and procedures. Hospice also provides holistic support to both the patient and the family through addressing their spiritual and emotional needs. To qualify for hospice care, patients must have a life expectancy of six months or less, though they can continue to receive care if they live longer.

For over 40 years, Hospice of the Western Reserve has been providing quality hospice care to Northern Ohio. Our mission is to foster choice in end-of-life care, so our services are provided in a variety of settings. We can provide care in one of our inpatient units, a skilled nursing or assisted living facility, or even the comfort of a patient’s own home, which was President Carter’s choice in his home state of Georgia.

Most hospice patients are Medicare/Medicaid eligible and have their services fully covered. Commercial insurers often have hospice benefits available in their plans. For those with limited or no coverage, it is important to select a hospice agency that is willing to sit and talk through available options. HWR has a Financial Resource Advocate who provides this information to families across Northern Ohio.

A common misconception of hospice is that it means “giving up,” or that the care involved hastens death. Hospice only hastens comfort, and many families who have walked with Hospice of the Western Reserve wish that they started their journey with the agency sooner.

Hospice never means “giving up.” Hospice gives hope. Hospice gives hope to those who are grieving. Hospice gives hope to families who want to spend quality time with their loved one, free from pain and suffering. Hospice means giving hope to patients who are seeking peace in their end-of-life journey.

Death is part of life. We all have friends, neighbors, and coworkers who have experienced hospice. When starting this path, seek out those who have traveled here before. These intimate and educational conversations, as well as the public ones that President Carter helped to start, can help put an end to the stigma of hospice and open the possibilities of care for our loved ones.


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