We often learn in Medical School ways to best
comfort someone by giving hope about their health situation,
by encouraging a fight…but in this case, none of this
advice would apply. We could not give her hope that [her
husband] would live through this. It was clear that he would
not. I had yet in my medical education to have the discussion
about finding peace, letting go, and ensuring a good death.”
Stephanie, Class of 2011
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Stephanie, a third-year medical student, wasn’t sure what would happen when she accompanied a Community Hospice team on a home visit to see one of our patients and his wife.
The visitation was part of Georgetown University Hospital’s unique Medicine Clerkship program that gives third year medical students a chance to see Community Hospice doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and trained volunteers providing hospice care to our patients – in hospitals, in our inpatient hospice unit, and in their homes.
“I knew that meeting the patient would be emotionally difficult
because I knew from his condition that he would be weak, feeble
and sedated….that witnessing his struggle and being present for
him and his wife would be an important learning experience
for me but I certainly dreaded walking into that room.
Part of me felt compelled however because of his wife’s words. I
knew she loved him so much and cared so much for him that she
wanted to share him with us and for that reason I was glad to have
the opportunity to meet her loved one, even in his final hours.”
Stephanie’s exposure to hospice care is unusual because many med student’s studies focus on diagnosing, treating, and curing illness and disease without discussion of options for terminally ill patients when there is no cure.
Hospice care is that option – the option to be relieved
of pain, to stay out of the hospital, to be at home with
the people and things we love – to live fully until we die.
Community Hospices is here – to provide you and your loved ones physical and spiritual end-of-life comfort care – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
And this is why your support of Community Hospices makes a real
difference for the patients we’re caring for today…and will make a
difference for those we’ll care for tomorrow. We’ll be here for you
and the people you love if you ever need us.
We’re teaching tomorrow’s doctors about hospice care as an option when curative treatments are no longer effective.
With your support, we’ll keep caring for patients and
teaching medical students – like Stephanie – about using
hospice care to manage patients’ pain and to support their
families when there are no medical cures.
About half the people surveyed in recent studies say that their first source of information about hospice care should be their doctors – and that’s why Community Hospices takes part in Georgetown University Hospital’s program – we’re helping prepare physicians to care for all of us.
I think that if you and I were faced with a life-limiting
illness, we would want a caring and knowledgeable doctor
to explain all of our medical options so that we could make the
best decisions for ourselves and the people we love.
Stephanie will be one of the caring and knowledgeable doctors that you and I would want, I have a feeling. Here’s more of what she had to say:
“I took a deep breath as I entered the room. He didn’t
appear to be dying – he seemed to just be sleeping
He lay in bed in his own sheets and pillows, well covered
and positioned comfortably. The light in the room was soft.
The room was neat and smelled like a bedroom not a hospital
room. There were no IVs and no monitors.”
We know that there may come a time when hospice comfort care is the best option for us or for our loved ones. And – thanks to caring contributors who support our services in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia – Community Hospices will be here when that time comes to gentle the journey for each one of us.
Our hospice physicians work with our patients’ physicians.
We create care plans that meet our individual patient’s needs.
We keep our patients comfortable by managing their pain.
We support our patients’ families spiritually and emotionally.
Now, the rest of Stephanie’s story – in her own words:
“We said our goodbyes and quietly left the
room. I was quite confident that our patient
would die a good death surrounded by his
I immediately thought that this seemed like
a very comfortable way to die – surrounded by
clinical staff able to treat your needs but in a room
that was quiet, inviting, and nothing like a hospital room.
I felt touched that the [Community Hospices] staff
provides this personal and loving care to individuals,
day after day, as if they were their own family.
Their dedication to comfort care and end of life care is
commendable and I am quite certain that my experience
at The Washington Home & Community Hospices will
remain with me always.”
Stephanie’s heartfelt words – more powerful than anything I can say to you –remind each one of us that there is such a thing as “a good death.”
And, generous contributions from people who support our services make it possible for Community Hospices to help everyone who’s eligible for hospice care to live their final days in the comfort of their own homes….with the people that they love.
We’re helping teach tomorrow’s doctors that
hospice care is a compassionate option for them
to offer patients faced with life-limiting illnesses.
You and I both know that these are challenging economic times for all of us and – today more than ever – Community Hospices, a community nonprofit, needs your support. While many people use their hospice benefits under Medicare, Medicaid or private insurers to cover their hospice care costs, these benefits seldom cover all the costs of our daily services. And some people have no insurance and no hospice benefits – we’re here to care for them regardless of their ability to pay for our services.
We’ve been caring for people at the end of life since
1888, and we believe that every person should have
the option to live their final days with dignity…as free
from pain as possible…surrounded by the people they love.
Please support our work caring for friends, neighbors, and loved ones in the final stages of their lives by sending in a donation now – when we need your support so much – in whatever amount you’re comfortable giving. Your contribution will help us serve more people who want compassionate hospice care at the end of their lives.
Thank you for your spirit of generosity,
Ron Wolff, Interim CEO
P.S. Stephanie will be a better doctor, we firmly believe, because now she
understands that – with compassionate hospice care – there is such a thing
as a “good death.” Your kind donation today will help us continue providing
hospice care to those who seek our gentle companionship on their end-of-life
journeys. Please call us 1.866.234.7742 if you need our help. Donate online.