Pella Chronicle

November 18, 2011

Letter to the editor

The Chronicle

Pella — To the editor,

No one likes to think about death and dying, but it’s something we all face eventually.  There’s an incredible resource in our community that provides comfort, dignity and respect to all those coping with a serious or life-limiting illness.  It’s Hospice.

November is National Hospice Month, a time to reach out to our community to raise awareness about the compassionate care that hospice provides.

One of the most important messages to help people understand is that hospice care helps patients and families focus on living. Unfortunately, the following situation is one that’s far too common and happens every day all across the country. A family is gathered by the bedside of a loved one who has been seriously ill, and now is likely near the end of life. Each member of the family has a different idea of what should be done and what their loved one would have wanted. Throughout the course of the illness, the family never discussed what the care priorities should be in the final months and weeks of life.

Even in the final days of life, these important decisions go unaddressed. This can leave a dark shadow over the death of a loved one that can linger long in the memory of family and dear friends.  No one wants to think they might have done more after a person is already gone.

“Hospice and palliative care professionals see such challenging situations every day,” said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “It’s difficult to know that more could have been done.”

One recommendation offered by these professionals who care for the dying would be to learn more about hospice and palliative care long before you or your loved one might need it.

“Don’t wait until you are in the midst of a healthcare crisis. After 30 years in hospice, one of the most frequent comments I’ve heard from families is ‘why didn’t we get hospice sooner,’” Schumacher said.

The hospice team provides expert medical care to keep patients comfortable and able to enjoy time with loved ones. The hospice team answers questions, offers advice on what to expect, and helps families with the duties of being a caregiver. The team also provides emotional and spiritual support for the entire family.

Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid in most states, and by most insurance plans and HMOs. Hospice care is provided in the home, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals and long term care centers.

Hospice care is available to anyone who has reached the end stage of a disease or who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Hospice professionals and trained volunteers will ask you what’s important and listen to what you say.  They make your wishes a priority.

If you or a loved one is facing a terminal or life-limiting illness, the time to find out more about hospice is right now.  Check out SouthernCare’s website for more information at or call your local SouthernCare office.

Harry Dell

Community Relations Director, Southern Care