COLUMN: Hospice treats patient, not disease

Published 7:30 am Saturday, June 8, 2024

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When consulting with patients and families, I often say, “Whatever will happen will happen with or without hospice, for we (hospice) are not in charge of the end-of-life, but we know the One who is.”

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Hospice does not treat the disease; it treats the patient. Hospice uses state-of-the-art medications and palliative treatments to relieve pain and symptoms and help keep patients comfortable. Hospice also addresses spiritual, emotional, and psychological comfort for the patient and the family.

When a person enrolls in hospice, they have enlisted a team of medical professionals working together with the goal for each day to be the best it can be. The hospice team consists of the patient, caregivers, the referring physician, the hospice medical director, registered nurses, hospice aide, social worker, chaplain, nurse practitioner, and office support staff. Each patient receives an individualized plan of care that the referring physician and hospice medical director review.

As hard as it was, hospice gave me the time to say goodbye to my late husband. Hospice does not change the outcome, but it does change the journey. As sad as I still sometimes get, I’ll always be thankful that because we were home in hospice, as his spirit left his disease-ridden body, I was holding his hand and telling him I loved him. Without hospice, I might not have had that.

Even though life has gone on, and I have been blessed with another wonderful husband, many times in the stillness of a moment, I still feel the same way I expressed many years ago. Perhaps some of you will relate.

Feeling the warm sunshine on my face, I close my eyes and I think of you.
The birds are singing, and as I try to distinguish the sound each makes
I think of you.
It’s early morning; a cool breeze is blowing, and the air is sweet
I think of you.
It’s the evening; the day is done, the nights are long
I think of you.
I see someone holding a hand like I once held yours; I think of you, remembering the touch.
A look of recognition is exchanged between two; I know that look
I think of you.
You remain in my life – you live in my memory.
You are free of heartache, worries, and pain, and in knowing this
I can be ok.
I will miss you forever – my life has been changed.
I love you.
I will always think of you. vcw 2007

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” David Viscott

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate for Aveanna Hospice.