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President Obama Signs National Hospice Month Proclamation

President Obama declared November 2010 as National Hospice Month.  Here is more information from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

For Immediate Release:
November 1, 2010President Obama Signs National Hospice Month Proclamation as the Hospice Community Works to Better Serve Veterans at Life’s End
(Alexandria, Va) – In a proclamation issued from the White House, President Obama declared November 2010 as National Hospice Month.

The proclamation reads in part: “All Americans should take comfort in the important work of hospice care, which enables individuals to carry on their lives, in spite of a terminal illness. During this month, let us recognize those who allow the terminally ill to receive comfortable and dignified care.”

Read the National Hospice Month proclamation online at the White House website.

Access to care has improved significantly in the three decades since November has been celebrated as National Hospice Month. The first White House proclamation honoring hospice month was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. At that time, hospices in the US served several thousand individuals and their family members each year. New data from National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shows that a record 41.5 percent of people who died in the US – 1.56 million patients with life-limiting illness – were served by the nation’s hospices last year.

“We are seeing more and more families avail themselves of the compassionate care but there is still work to be done,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “Too many people only receive care for a few days which is not enough time for patients and families to take full advantage of the wide range of services that hospice and palliative care professionals can offer that help people live as fully as possible up until the end of life.”

“Seasons of Caring,” this year’s theme for National Hospice/Palliative Care Month, reminds people that life’s final seasons can be some of the most fulfilling and encourages timely access to quality care at the end of life.

As part of its commitment to increasing access and helping providers better serve their communities, NHPCO in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), has created We Honor Veterans, a pioneering campaign to help improve the care Veterans receive from hospice and palliative care providers. The We Honor Veterans website, www.wehonorveterans.org, went live only days before National Hospice/Palliative Care Month.

Many people may not realize that one out of every four dying Americans served our country in the military – that’s more than 680,000 Veterans who die every year.

“Through We Honor Veterans we are taking a giant step forward in helping hospice and palliative care providers understand and serve Veterans at the end of life and work more effectively with VA medical facilities in their communities,” said Schumacher.

Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families. They also serve as valuable community resources about care options.

Hospice is not a place but a philosophy of care created to help people live with dignity, comfort, and compassion at the end of life. Palliative care works to bring this philosophy of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness.

November provides an important opportunity for hospice and palliative care professionals and volunteers to reach out to community members, referral sources, legislators and the media with important messages about care.

Additional information about hospice, palliative care, advance care planning, and talking with loved ones about these important issues is available from NHPCO’s Caring Connections. For information, to find a local hospice, or to get a free state-specific advance directive form, visit www.caringinfo.org or call the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.

Care providers will find more information about caring for Veterans at www.wehonorveterans.org.

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Media Contact:
Jon Radulovic, 703-837-3139 or jradulovic@nhpco.org
or
Andy Duncan, 703-837-3145 or aduncan@nhpco.org

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