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Hospice: A partnership in compassionate care

Hospice is a philosophy of care, not a place. A medical specialty, hospice is dedicated to providing for the physical, medical, and emotional needs for patients and families coping with the end-of-life. Hospice is usually offered in tandem with family care wherever a patient calls home, or, in hospital, nursing care or hospice center.

Hospice professionals work in teams, partnering with families and friends caring for a loved one who is coping with a serious, life-limiting illness. Hospice care is often sought when patients, families and doctors determine a cure is no longer possible, and the attention is shifted toward the patient’s comfort. Many hospice services are non-profit organizations, ensuring every patient in need has access to care. Medicare covers hospice costs, as well as most insurance plans.

Often people think of inviting hospice services at the very end of a patient’s life. However, hospice services can offer resources, direction and help long before that time. Hospice services can walk alongside a patient and family from diagnosis to the end of life – and will also offer grief counseling to families afterward. Hospice is a holistic philosophy that considers the needs of patient and families throughout this tender journey.

In Maryland, hospice care is provided according to geographical location. To connect with services in your area, please visit the Find Local Care page.

Historical Note:
Hospice care in the United States was founded by – you guessed it, a nurse. Florence S. Wald traveled to England during the early 1960’s after she heard a lecture at Yale University given by Dr. Cicely Saunders, an English doctor and pioneer in the field. Along with an team of doctors, nurse and clergy, Wald helped found the first US hospice in 1974, in Brandford Connecticut. Today, there are more than 3,000 hospice services across the United States.

I say to people who care for people who are dying, if you really love that person and want to help them, be with them when their end comes close. Sit with them - you don't even have to talk. You don't have to do anything but really be there with them. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
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