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Hospice care interferes with hospital business

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 10:54 a.m. CDT

From Jim Stalker


“Greater Regional to exit business of hospice care.” The key word here is “business.”

For several years, my wife and I were involved with trying to develop tourism in Union County. It all started with Lois Hunt, who worked with Iowa State Extension. The word went out that volunteers were needed to help develop tourism. What started out as a simple foray into the possibility of pulling more people into the county to see and do all the fun things that each county had to offer, with just a few volunteers, developed into a nine county group dedicated to the promotion of such. Each month, we would meet to eat and plan our approach. This developed into a booth at the state fair, with points of interest about each county. Eventually, we put out a newspaper annually boasting our attributes. Remember, all manned by volunteers.

At some point, money became available to hire one volunteer to oversee the nine counties. The group was becoming more sophisticated, more organized, but at that point, still controlled by volunteers. Then, Union County hired a person to handle the tourism.

All of a sudden, we were thrust into an arena we were not so comfortable with. From that point on, we became a business. We had to earn enough money to pay for stamps, miscellaneous office materials, officers were voted on, events had to pay for themselves, and eventually, decisions were made before the workers, the volunteers, had a voice in those decisions. As volunteers, we jumped out at that point. I have no clue how its being run now, I could care less. It’s a business. They still put out a paper every year and that’s good, but I think the volunteerism that we saw in the beginning, that raw enthusiasm, is long gone. Of course, I’m always open to be pulled out onto the carpet and proven wrong.

Something similar, it appears, has happened to hospice care at Greater Regional. When it comes to be my time to have someone tell me its okay to pass on and be comforted, will I be adding a burden to the burden of the hospital’s business policies?

What started out as a hand extended to people’s last days, became, unfortunately, a business – in the eyes of the hospital. At that point, hospice took a dangerous turn in the wrong direction.

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