Buckhannon Rotary learns more about Hospice

BUCKHANNON – Participation in hospice – an end-of-life program – is not about giving up, but rather about living, one local doctor told the Buckhannon Rotary Club at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Dr. Clyde Mitchell, the medical director of St. Joseph’s Hospice Program and the director of the hospital’s new Skilled Nursing Facility, said the impression that hospice tends to leave on the public is the misconception that it is giving up on living.

However, Mitchell said the opposite is true.

“Hospice is recognizing the end of life, but it’s not giving up,” Mitchell said, adding that the program wasn’t a form of confinement, a loss of control, living less or just about being drugged.

He said that sometimes, people are actually discharged from hospice programs alive because they survive their ailment. He said that hospice programs are not just a benefit to the patient who is ill, but to that patient’s entire family.

Mitchell said hospice is not a program limited to six months; nor is it assisted suicide, “death by morphine,” costly or for living out the last days of one’s life. As for the cost, Mitchell said that the program is a Medicare benefit.

After breaking down the misconceptions about the hospice program, Mitchell explained what it actually is. He said hospice is about taking control, choosing and achieving goals and living better and longer.

“Participating in hospice can help a person live better and longer,” Mitchell said.

He also said the hospice program is about acknowledging the truth about the progression of a disease. Instead of thinking of it as a way of giving up, Mitchell said the program can be thought of as a way of fighting.

“Joining hospice doesn’t mean you’re not fighting,” Mitchell said. “Still, you need to ask if fighting is accomplishing anything.”

The hospice program also individualizes a plan of care. Mitchell said the program can also give the patient surprising improvements, increased activity, opportunity, fulfillment and more time with their loved ones.

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