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MC Weekly

December 11, 2013

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Hospice is not about giving up, but letting go

Cynthia Price spent 19 years caring for the dying.

She has cried after leaving a patient.

She has been called “Mom’s angel.”

She has been honored by simply being asked to ring a dinner bell.

Through it all, Cynthia E. Price of Peru has done her job — and to me, there can be no higher compliment for people in her profession.

Now 65, Price has retired after 40 years as a nurse, the last 19 as one who cared for hospice patients.

When she’s asked to define a hospice, Price responds in a clear-cut, direct way:

“All of us are going to die. All of us have the right to determine how, where and the circumstances under which that occurs. Hospice is not about ‘giving up’ but about ‘letting go.’ Hospice is about self determination at the end of life.”

Just as her husband, Jeff Price, an attorney, advocates for clients, Cynthia Price advocates for hospice.

Price believes hospice is “just now coming into its own. It is now seen as a viable alternative for end-of-life care.” She believes there will be a trend toward more government oversight.

There are essentially two kinds of hospice care. Basic elements apply, but the delivery systems are different, Price said.

She elaborated:

“At home, the patient and/or primary caregiver are given the tools to keep the patient functioning at the optimal level as long as possible. This is done through education regarding the disease, dying process, provision of medical equipment, medicines and emotional support to the patient, caregiver and family.

“In a health facility, the staff is already educated as to the disease process.

“Hospice education regarding the dying process may be necessary. In Indiana, the rules for medication use in a facility are different for hospice patients. For instance, anti-anxiety meds are strictly controlled and documentation is stringently required. But for a hospice patient, generally, anxiety is part of the dying process. So anti-anxiety meds are used to alleviate the distress. The state does not look upon the use of these medications as a 'chemical restraint.’”

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