Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Debunking Hospice Misperceptions.

At times in my life, I've called both the LA Times and the NY Times my hometown newspaper. I've never doubted which was more respected or, well, the better quality product. But looking at a new LAT story on hospice care, I have to say that while the NYT beat their west coast counterpart to addressing end of life topics (and with a beautiful series), the LAT has shown more practical function with their latest.

Their article on Friday necessarily and clearly dispels misconceptions about hospice care:

Over the last 25 years, the number of Americans turning to hospice for end-of-life care has climbed dramatically -- from 25,000 in 1982 to 1.45 million in 2008, as more and more people choose to spend their final days in the comfort of home or a patient facility with a home-like environment rather than in a hospital pursuing aggressive treatments.

During the last decade, Medicare reimbursements for hospice have also risen, allowing more hospices to open without relying on fundraising for survival, says Christy Whitney, chief executive of Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado in Grand Junction.

The decision to stop curative treatment and enter hospice is never easy, and it comes at a stressful time. Even once the decision is made, arranging for hospice care requires the acknowledgment of unpleasant realities, which doctors themselves may hesitate to discuss. This reluctance can put the onus on patients and families to initiate difficult conversations about end-of-life care.

And then it proceed to answer practical questions/issues like, What is Hospice?, Who Is Eligible?, and Making Plans Long Before You are Sick.

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