Human Exceptionalism

Hospice Organization Reacts to FEN Lawyer Slander

The other day I posted about how a lawyer for one of the Final Exit Network defendants said that hospice is just assisted suicide in slow motion. This is dangerous demagoguery that could convince people not to seek the benefits that hospice can provide. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has now issued a press release rebutting the baseless charge. From the release:

“Hospice compassionately cares for people who are near the close of life–but hospice isn’t about how you die, it’s about how you live. Hospice and palliative care focuses on how dying persons and their loved ones live each day, providing comfort and guidance along the way,” said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “The quote from that news article demonstrates a callous disregard for all those who receive care, including family caregivers, from our nation’s hospice programs.”…

– Hospice focuses on caring, not curing and, in most cases, care is provided in the person’s home. – Hospice care also is provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

– Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness.

– Hospice provides bereavement support to families for 12 months following the death of their loved one.

– Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations.

– Research has shown the Medicare beneficiaries that opted for hospice care as opposed to other medical interventions when faced with a terminal illness lived on average 29 days longer than those who did not receive hospice care.

I am aware of the stories of abuse in some hospice cases. They make me sick, but I don’t believe they are typical. And there is a problem with whether tube-supplied food and fluids are considered comfort care or life-extending treatment–a matter the government should remedy by regulation.

But I have been a hospice volunteer. I have seen the tremendous good it does, including with my own father who died in hospice care from colon cancer. A wonderful friend who died of breast cancer a few years ago, received such good care she and her husband were able to enjoy a lingering lunch at her favorite restaurant with Secondhand Smokette and me only two or three days before she died at home surrounded by her family.

Hospice is important. It is truly compassionate. It must not be corrupted with the assisted suicide virus. I am glad that the NHPCO leadership felt strongly enough about this respond to that lawyer’s nonsense.