“Let’s be honest, it’s hard to talk about death,” says Susan Burk, the Community Liaison at Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. “When a patient and family hear ‘hospice’, there’s often already fear in their hearts. Hospice is not about death. It’s about life … having the best quality of life in the time that is given to you.”

Hospice is derived from the Latin word meaning “hospitality” or “a place of refuge,” but most people upon hearing the word “hospice” tend to cringe as if the word is itself a diagnosis of death. They often believe that “hospice” is a place, the nice Hospice Homes near the hospital where people go for the last few days of their life. The fact is, hospice is not a place, it’s a philosophy of care and a specialized field of medicine.

At Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions, the team companions not only the patient but the entire family through the end-of-life journey, as their mission states, “with skill and compassion.” They work to make that journey what the patient wants, providing a plan and a path forward. Hospice patient–directed care prioritizes comfort, quality of life, and individual wishes and includes addressing physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a good time to address the many myths and misconceptions about what Hospice is and isn’t.

  • Hospice is not a place. At CWHT, most patients are in their own homes, whether it be their residence in town, out at their ranch, or in an assisted living or nursing home facility. Their Chapman and Kloefkorn Hospice Homes are available to those who need that specialized level of care.
  • Choosing hospice care does not mean you’re giving up; rather, it’s a shift in the way you’re approaching your medical care. Hospice provides a way to live the rest of your days in comfort, peace, and dignity. It’s not about giving up, it’s about improving the quality of life for the time you are given. 
  • Choosing hospice doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. You can leave a hospice program at any time for any reason without penalty. You can also restart hospice services at any time if you are medically eligible.  
  • Hospice does not hasten death, nor does it prolong life. In fact, some studies show that hospice patients with certain illnesses may live longer with hospice care than those who choose another path.
  • Hospice will not take away all your medications. Your hospice nurse will go over your medications with you and your family to decide what you need to stay comfortable. 
  • You don’t have to give up your doctor if you choose hospice care.
  • A conversation is not a commitment, and the Care Coordination Team at CWHT is happy to answer any questions you may have.

“Having that conversation can be a powerful thing,” says Burk. “It’s not a commitment for you, but it is a commitment for us to make sure everyone in our community has access to, and knowledge of, this unique care.”

For more information on services at Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions, please call (307) 577-4832 or visit www.centralwyominghospice.org.

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