My 71 yr old father died last night at the hospital. He was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma in the Spring of 2018. I won’t detail the entire cancer journey in this post, but I wanted to discuss an alternative to hospice. My goal is to help other “newbies” out there facing similar end-time choices.
Dad had been living at a skilled nursing facility. Hospice had been recommended a few times by doctors within the last few weeks, however, we felt routine treatment was needed for palliative purposes such as blood transfusions. This week, dad asked to go to the hospital and was transported there by ambulance. Suffice to say his condition further declined and the attending physician recommended hospice. After some discussion, he later offered “comfort care” at the hospital. We were given the option of staying at the hospital for a few extra days under a hospice-like philosophy. We were able to discontinue most meds and introduce new meds to improve comfort and reduce pain. Note: a DNR, advanced directive, and POA was already in place. His final hours/ minutes of life ended as well as it could with me by his side - no regrets.
Prior to this experience, I had been under the impression that once we pushed the hospice “button”, dad would be discharged from the hospital and transported elsewhere. That is not the case and I wanted others out there with limited experience in this area to know that. If your terminal loved one finds themself in the hospital, you should know that hospitals can and do provide “comfort care” to dying patients instead of the burden of changing locations to a hospice setting. As many of you know, staying a little longer at the hospital allows for better care than being at a SNF.
In reference to his cancer journey with stage 4 melanoma, I will summarize that in a future post with the goal of helping others better comprehend what they might expect.