Monthly Archives: December 2014

Hospice Or ICU


A recent Washington Post article examines the state of patients in an intensive care unit in a Norfolk hospital. Post reporter Peter Whoriskey describes the scene of patients with feeding tubes, breathing machines and wrist restraints (to keep them from unhooking the equipment).

A quote from a doctor tending to the patients in this ICU addresses what the reporter witnesses. Dr. Paul Marik says, “I think if someone from Mars came and saw some of these people, they would say, what have they done to deserve this punishment? People might say we are prolonging life, but we end up prolonging death.”

The Post piece mentions opinions of other doctors about some ICU patients: “A 2013 survey conducted in one academic medical center…found that critical care clinicians believed that 11 percent of their patients received care that was futile; another 9 percent received care that was probably futile, it said.”

In the article, Whoriskey suggests a remedy for this aggressive hospital treatment… hospice care. But why don’t doctors refer more of their patients to hospice organizations? Whoriskey writes: “Doctors are reluctant to disappoint a patient with the grim truth, and knowingly or not, keep false hopes alive. Families meanwhile sometimes overestimate the power of modern medicine.”

Another part of Whoriskey’s item provides a nursing perspective: “Surveys of intensive care nurses at 14 ICUs in Virginia, published in 2007 in the journal Critical Care Medicine, found that the leading cause of moral distress [among nurses] arises from the pressure to continue aggressive treatment in cases where the nurses do not think such treatment is warranted.”

The Washington Post article reminds us of the importance of Advance Directives for all patients. These determinations can and should be made before an illness or condition reaches a critical stage.

Also, the importance of strong involvement by family members in dealing with a patient’s medical team cannot be overstated. Ask questions and offer input. And when decisions must be made, consider which path of treatment will be best for the patient.

To read Peter Whoriskey’s article in the Washington Post, click HERE.

For information about hospice care in metro St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.











The Gray Zone


When should a patient facing a major health issue switch from aggressive treatment to hospice care? This is a big question patients and families face.

Dr. Brad Stuart, formerly with California’s Sutter Health group, was quoted recently on this topic. He said, “This population is in the gray zone between treatable and terminal, and that gray zone is expanding really rapidly.”

He continued, “In that gray zone, it’s often not appropriate to just stop treatment and go straight to hospice. But at the same time, it’s also not appropriate to just throw the whole nine yards of treatment at everybody every time, which is what we tend to do in traditional care.”

Another health care professional was more direct. Christine McMichael, executive director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts, recently said, “The bottom line is, it’s about dying where you feel at home. It’s about not being awakened every hour, not being fed medication that disorients, no fluorescent lighting – (it is) a peaceful environment, surrounded by loved ones, not strangers.”

Another Massachusetts hospice professional, Wayne Regan, said, “The patient and family have to be ready, mentally able to say ‘we accept that at some point this patient is going to die.’”

Should you, as a family member, determine that your loved one is in that gray zone, we at Hope Hospice suggest that you consider your choices carefully. If you have questions about hospice and the full range of services provided, please call us at 314-984-9800. Our team is always ready to answer your questions.

While it may not yet be time to place your loved one on hospice care, it’s good to know what hospice care is all about, should the need arise.

Hope Hospice serves patients and families in St. Louis city and county and in Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin counties. Hope Hospice offices are at Barrett Station and Manchester Roads.

(photo credit:, Kimberly Mahr via photopin,

Heating Up For Seniors 2014

Each year Hope Hospice collects apparel to distribute to area nursing homes to help keep St. Louis area senior citizens warm during winter. The 2014 Heating Up For Seniors collection drive will find Hope Hospice staff and volunteers accepting donations Saturday, December 6, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at Syberg’s on Dorsett and Helen Fitzgerald’s on Lindbergh.


Items most needed include gloves, hats, scarves, lap blankets, sweatshirts, socks and other warm apparel. (Items may also be dropped off at collection boxes which are set up now at all Syberg’s locations including Downtown, Affton, Chesterfied, O’Fallon [Illinois], as well as Dorsett and Helen Fitzgerarld’s.)

The Hope Hospice team will also accept cash donations Saturday evening and will hold 50/50 drawings to raise money for more warm apparel.


Both locations feature live bands on Saturday nights and lively crowds. They are fun venues to enjoy good things to eat (such as Syberg’s Wings, shown below) and drink.



Last year, we were visited by Fredbird!


We invite you to join the Hope Hospice team Saturday evening, December 6, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Syberg’s at 2430 Old Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights and at Helen Fitzgerald’s at 3650 South Lindbergh in Sunset Hills.

Thank you in advance for your support of our 2014 Heating Up For Seniors collection drive. And thanks to Syberg’s for their great support.

(Pictured below are Kirk Syberg and Hope’s Laura Bilbrey.)


For more information about Hope Hospice’s Heating Up For Seniors drive, please call the Hope office at 314-984-9800.