Category Archives: The Gray Zone

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,