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Susan J. Fuglie, Published November 12 2010

In midst of health care debate, little said about hospice care

Health care reform has been among the nation’s hottest topics in the past year. In the midst of the debate, virtually nothing has been said about hospice care. At the same time, utilization of hospice care for people nearing the end of their lives continues to increase. Why? Because it’s what so many people want.

An estimated 41.6 percent of all people who died in the U.S. last year were under the care of a hospice program, up from 35 percent in 2007, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

“This rising statistic shows that more Americans facing a life-limiting illness are opting for care that addresses medical, emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life. And that is the compassionate care that hospice and palliative care bring to patients and families in need,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHCPO president and CEO.

To be sure, hospice is under scrutiny like all components of health care. Reduced reimbursement, more onerous regulations and reports of fraud have become as integral to hospice as the rest of the industry, literally threatening the survival of many rural programs.

Nevertheless, Hospice of the Red River Valley is committed to serving today and tomorrow! Hospice care is not only what so many people want, it is also 30 percent less expensive than other care at the end of life. Hospice care is part of the solution to our health care problems.

Hospice of the Red River Valley serves patients and families in 29 counties of the region. Sure, we serve people in Fargo, Valley City, Detroit Lakes, Grand Forks, and so on. But we also serve people in Stirum, McVille, Eldred and the individual farms and homes in between – in all, 35,000 square miles, one family at a time.

That is the commitment we have made, and that is the commitment we maintain. It means that we keep reinventing ourselves, that we keep asking more of staff, that we try to think outside the box about new ways to ensure care delivery. It also means that we maintain our gold standard of care and outreach to everyone in the service area. It’s just the right thing to do.

You own us. We are your community asset. We are here to serve.


Fuglie is executive director of Hospice of the Red River Valley.