On December 9th (and in previous recent issues) the LA times published information about fraudulent practices in the hospice industry. This is so sad on so many levels. First and foremost, shame on hospice organizations that prey on the dying and their families. Hospice should and for the most part IS a beautiful place, where CARING and LOVING people work and care for others. But like any other industry, there are bad apples and players who are not there for the right reasons. Perhaps it is magnified as people have an expectation, and rightly so, that people in hospice care and do the right thing. And frankly most do. However, this article as important as it was in exposing fraudulent practices, could not have come at a worse time.
In this pandemic we are seeing more people dying alone. More people are sick and in need of the tender care a great hospice can provide. Sadly, these articles are showing the ugly underbelly of a beautiful profession. My greatest fear as a hospice professional, is that these articles will have turned people off to the amazing gifts hospice can provide a dying loved one and their family. It is so sad to hear the people who have had poor experiences; but I am certain that they are among the few that hospice has not met their expectations. Like any industry, hospices are run by people and people- even the good ones make mistakes and are inherently flawed, but please, do not judge such an important profession and service to our communities by making us all look like criminals.
I have witnessed both on the professional and personal side the power a hospice has to make a very difficult time easier on both patients and their loved ones and family. I have seen the power that hospice has to take inmates and turn them into caregivers in prison hospice units. I have experienced how hospice helps a family heal while honoring their loved one. Hospice cannot be put under an umbrella of fraudulent or crooked. Those are outliers. It can be synonymous with caring, compassionate and life changing.
In this time of pandemics and fear let’s take the advice of Mr. Fred Rogers, focus on the helpers. It may not sell as many newspapers, but it will make our communities a better place.