Hospice helps

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2003

When one is sick, where would they rather be treated? They would probably prefer the security and comfort of their own bed in their own home. More than 4.5 million Americans agree, which is why we are celebrating National Home Care Month this November.

Hospice affirms life and focuses on the quality of life. Hospice exists to provide support and care for persons in the last phases of incurable diseases so that they might live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice recognizes dying as a normal process whether or not resulting from the disease. Hospice neither hastens nor postpones death. Hospice exists in the hope and belief that through appropriate care and the support of a caring community sensitive to their needs, patients and families may be free to attain a degree of mental and spiritual preparation for death that is satisfactory to them.

As we face the stiff challenges of State budget issues, including the Hospice Medicaid benefit, it is fitting we take moment to recognize the miracle that is home care in America.

When one's mother, father, sister, brother, and neighbor are struggling with a disability, dealing with a chronic or terminal illness, or recovering from a recent hospital stay, home care and hospice professional caregivers have the answer and work diligently to help those in their homes.

Why do we celebrate? More than just providing excellent care where and when patients need and want it, home care and hospice save the United States and commercial health insurers billions of health care dollars each year. The Medicaid Hospice Benefit alone has saved an estimated $19 million for the State of Alabama in one year.

As the 21st century continues to unfold, the fundamental domestic issue becomes obvious: How will we provide high quality long-term care to our parents and eventually for ourselves? The answer is home care and hospice, which combines care, compassion, and cost effectiveness.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving and recall our many gifts, please remember the home care and hospice professionals who make a difference every day for our nation's seniors, disabled, and infirm. They make it possible for home care and hospice to be where the healing begins.

Lisa Teel,Administrator Comfort Care Hospice