Hospice and palliative care help patients live life on their terms

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. This month, we should all recognize the extraordinary work of the professionals who care for the seriously and terminally ill. Hospices and palliative care providers go beyond people’s illnesses and symptoms and support for how they want to live their lives. We at Turenne PharMedCo are privileged to serve customers providing this special kind of care.

Hospice is an approach to care for the terminally ill that addresses all their needs, including physical, emotional and spiritual concerns. They also provide support for caregivers and family members and friends. Palliative care helps improve the quality of life for the seriously ill by helping them address their symptoms and understand their choices for treatment. It can also include family and caregiver support, help with setting healthcare goals and care coordination.

Hospice and palliative care providers are a part of a rich history of medical professionals who saw the benefit of taking a holistic approach to healthcare. In the past, providing care specifically for the terminally ill began with informal community efforts. The first modern-day hospice movement is credited to the work of British physician Dame Cicely Saunders who began caring for terminally ill patients in 1948 as a nurse. The first hospice in the United States was founded by a nurse, educator, and pioneer of the American hospice movement, Florence Wald. She and two doctors and a chaplain opened Connecticut Hospice in 1974. Over time, hospice began to be seen as a viable concept that could provide more humane care for Americans with terminal illnesses while reducing costs. Congress created a Medicare hospice benefit in the early 1980s.

Today, there are about 4,300 providers in the U.S. In 2016, hospices served more than 1.4 million patients, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

As our nation faces an increase in the number of elderly people in need of healthcare options, hospices and palliative care providers will be called upon even more. They will play a vital role in giving medical care to patients and assisting their loved ones. Most importantly, they will support the quality and dignity of patients living life -- on their terms. 

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