By Dr. Michael Deters, Medical Director
The importance of early admission to hospice programs for patients with terminal illnesses is of utmost importance for both the patient and the family. The trend, however, across the country is for late admission to end-of-life care programs.
There has been a lot of research on admissions to hospice programs and the evidence shows that patients live much longer and have a much better quality of life than the similar patient not in a hospice program. Hospice is a specialty in relief of suffering that is not practiced in traditional medicine and this is why the quality of life is so much better.
Patients who have cancer and are still on palliative chemotherapy live longer with a much better quality of life than a patient with the same disease on the same chemotherapy not in a hospice program. We know that patients with non-cancer diagnoses live much longer and often graduate from the programs for a period of time due to the close monitoring of their health by the hospice team. Earlier admission to hospice allows the team to work with both the patient and the family, especially the caregiver. This also allows hospice to help the patient and family more readily accept the diagnosis, prognosis and help them prepare for the end of life.
The entire team including primary nurse, social worker, music therapist, aides, volunteers and spiritual counselors, all help to relieve the physical, spiritual and emotional pain. The team is also a wonderful support for the caregiver to help them with the difficult management of pain and use of medications that is not available if the patient is not in a hospice program. Cedar Valley Hospice is available at anytime by calling 319.272.2002 to evaluate a patient to determine if they are appropriate for hospice care.