Author Archive for Larry Patten

Time to Walk Into the Sunset

last musing
The final walk into the sunset…

Hospice means the end of the line. It’s when someone raises the white flag of surrender, tosses in the towel to declare it’s over, takes the final walk into the sunset.

Which is not true about hospice care!

Except, for me, it is true.

This will be my last weekly Hospice Matters post.

Back in 1989, I had my first hospice encounter with a farm family in Wisconsin. A husband—also a father and grandfather—was dying. I spent time visiting him and his family while they were supported by a local hospice agency. About a month before Christmas, a member of the church I then served asked me to meet with his dying neighbor. My church member and the dying man were dairy farmers, quiet men who had known each other since they were knee high to a grasshopper. I was glad for the opportunity to add to the family’s support. In the years that followed, a few of my sermon stories came from those yuletide trips to their farm. I have also written about the experience.

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Hospice Work: Your Own Idea or Were You Poorly Advised?

heart in hand

“What do you say when people ask how you can work in hospice?”

Near the end of a long Friday, at the end of another tough week, a colleague posed that question.

That question. That question.

I won’t share the details of our conversation because—like everything in hospice—confidentiality is a priority. But I will tell you my co-worker had several demanding visits in a row with patients. Everyone with a job they enjoy has difficult days like my colleague. But in hospice, all of patients—the scared or angry person, the silent or talkative person, the openly sharing or hide-the-feelings person—are dying. They will not get better.

And so, hospice workers wonder if they truly helped the patient and their family.

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What John Kennedy Said!

Kennedy speech

In this political season*, I recall President John Kennedy’s familiar, famous line from his inaugural: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

What about this version:

Ask not what your hospice can do for you, but ask what you can do for your hospice.

Now, wait just a New York minute . . .

Isn’t hospice supposed to do it all for you, as patient, as caregiver? Most hospice patients have spent a lifetime paying for Medicare. The nurses and other support staff on the hospice “team” are paid for, right? The medications for the terminal illness are covered in the hospice benefit, right? The equipment brought to your home—hospital-style bed, commode, oxygen, and more—are part of the deal, right?

Why should a caregiver or patient ask, What can I do for hospice?

What a crock!

Now that I’ve irked you, let me try to explain by briefly focusing on my ABCs of hospice care.

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