Everything on these stapled pages is confidential: the patient’s name, age, patient’s doctor, date of entry into hospice care, clinical staff assigned to the patient, and their disease.
I will tell you this. The names blur. Because I’ve lived in this community for several decades, I’ll occasionally recognize a name. But usually not, since there are nearly 2,000,000 residents in the region my hospice covers. Every week, scores of patients appear on the spreadsheet, some newly admitted, some served by our staff for weeks and months, and even—more rarely—for over a year.
But I study their names. I try to remember each is a gift. I try to remember they are brothers, aunts, fathers, grandmas, best friends, moms, bosses, colleagues, and children. My hospice has cared for members of street gangs. We have cared for the rich and famous. Are they that different? Ralph Waldo Emerson bluntly wrote, “Sorrow makes us all children again – destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.” Read More →by