Saturday, June 12, 2010
Curative Medical Care vs. Non-Curative Hospice Care: Two Men in Love with the Same Woman
Curative medical care and non-curative hospice care are like two men in love with the same woman. The curative man, who has enjoyed many wonderful years with her, is reluctant to let her go. But their joy together has declined with time. While she appreciates the fulfillment they shared in the past, she now feels a lack of commitment to him and an urgency to move on with her life. The hospice man, the new love in her life, fills the void she is experiencing and brings an essential enhancement to her well being. He longs to stay with her because their relationship has reached a mutually meaningful level. The woman he loves embraces the happiness his hospice presence brings.
Unfortunately, many experience this love triangle in varied ways. Patients may resist the prediction of death within months and the prospect of involving outsiders as caregivers. Some doctors and caregivers may be reluctant to admit that a patient cannot be saved. Medical staff focused on curing all patients may not totally commit to the hospice philosophy of non-curative care when working with hospice patients.
Love triangles like this that exist in nursing homes and other institutions must be resolved with focus on the best interests of patients. In order to improve treatment of the terminally ill, institutions that have hospice programs must be dedicated to promoting staff expertise in hospice practices. This commitment must include clear administrative support with ongoing education and monitoring of staff practices. This will ensure that hospice patients receive services appropriate to their non-curative condition.
What’s love got to do with it? Everything. In some institutions where these positive partnerships have been implemented, hospice practices such as better pain management have naturally become part of the care given to terminally ill patients who are not in hospice programs. True love can be contagious like that.
Can two men be in love with the same woman? Sure, if they respect each other’s boundaries, strive for a healthy relationship including the woman’s needs, and understand that, when lovers lose their mutual joy and loyalty, moving on can be love’s greatest expression.
Frances Shani Parker, Author