The Misconception of Hospice Hastening Death


It seems that some people believe that death will come faster if they enter hospice care. This is a myth. The Medicare hospice benefit is available to recipients who have been certified by a physician to be terminally ill with life expectancy of six months. Our Lady of Peace

Hospice (OLP) teams have cared for patients in their own home for this long, and longer. Timely enrollment in hospice gives families the ability to spend focused time together with an emphasis on quality of life, without the added burden of appointments outside of the home. 

Unlike other medical care, hospice focuses exclusively on a person’s comfort and dignity at end-of-life, a time when most people hope for quality of life, comfort, and peace. Physicians and nurses provide pain and symptom management, and the medications used are for symptom relief only and are never used to hasten death. Hospice patients also receive care from certified nursing assistants (CNA’s), and support from social workers, and chaplains. Massage, Health Touch, and music therapy and pet therapy are also available to OLP patients. 

Lindsey Pelletier, RN, CHPN is the performance improvement coordinator for OLP. She says, 

“It is so rewarding to support patients by focusing on quality of life and relieving symptoms, so they can pursue their wishes for end-of-life. I recently arranged a travel hospice contract for a patient so he could travel to Florida, once his symptoms were well controlled. During the trip, he was able to enjoy some final rounds of golf, one of his favorite pastimes. This remains one 

of the most meaningful experiences of my ten years of working in hospice.”

There have been others in the care of OLP who have taken a trip, while in hospice. In 2019, 

Dick Savard from South St. Paul traveled with his daughter and an OLP caregiver to Groton, Connecticut. His mission was to visit the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, a vessel he repaired as a Navy machinery repairman petty officer

just before the Vietnam War. Dick’s daughter said, “The trip brought closure to a life well-lived.” 

When Patrick King entered OLP hospice care in his home, after being diagnosed with liver cancer and given eight months to live, he and his family made the decision for him to enter hospice care as soon as he qualified, two months later. He said, “I decided that I didn’t want treatment, so once I realized I was within the six-month hospice time period, I decided to go for the gold.”  Patrick claimed his quality of life was higher in hospice, as he received care from medical professionals, he grew to call friends. 

A lot of people tell us they wished their loved one would have entered hospice care sooner, giving them more time with their family, friends, and pets. While it is the physician’s responsibility to determine whether a patient meets the medical eligibility criteria, patients can open the discussion. 

At Our Lady of Peace, hospice is not about death, it’s about quality of life. We provide the physical, emotional, and spiritual support needed to ensure that you or a loved one can live well…always.