I read Jim Pledger’s Viewpoint column (11-3) with interest this morning. My mother, father and brother all died of cancer. My mother and brother were under the care of hospice, and my father died in a nursing home. The benefits of the hospice philosophy and programs for my family were knowing my loved ones were receiving excellent pain and symptom management and emotional support that hospitals and nursing homes are not equipped to deliver.
My mother was able to die at home, per her wish. While my brother was under hospice care as a Medicaid patient, he could not be cared for at home but in a nursing home. My father also died in a nursing home as a Medicare patient. It was very difficult to deal with the lack of privacy in saying goodbye (two beds per room). For my brother, pain management became an issue several times as hospitals and nursing homes have a different pain management philosophy. Hospice is more aggressive in achieving comfort.
As a compassionate society, we cannot cut hospice funds. Not only does it not make financial sense as Mr. Pledger’s piece pointed out, it is unconscionable to deny anyone as comfortable a death as possible for themselves and for their loved ones. Think about how your loved ones have died. Think about your passing. What would you want? Send a note to the governor and to your congressional delegation with the message to continue to support hospice programs in Washington.