End-of-Life care… Hospice. Bruce Birnberg
Bruce Birnberg is Executive Director of Stein Hospice, a faith-based, non profit elderly care facility, in New Jersey. Mr Birnberg speaks on the difficult subject that is “end-of-life-care…” for elderly patients and their families. Mr. Birnberg comments on a ( Politico) article by a “progressive” doctor, who wrote of the “hospice movement” that began in the 1970’s and 1980’s, “as counter cultural response to the woefully bad care of the terminally ill…”…Mr Birnberg points to the statistics: 90% of Americans “express the desire to die at home surrounded by their loved ones, but only 20% get that wish.” He also notes that physicians themselves, “generals in a war against disease,” make different decisions for the [care of] their own family members…” In fact, Mr. Birnberg mentions the scant “medical training” (Hospice care is an “elective” and not “required” course) in Universities on the “process of dying..,” in comparison to the many “sexual” courses… Mr. Birnberg suggests a book by Angelo Volandes titled “The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care” on how to have “frank discussions …on Death and dying…”
End-of-Life care…Hospice. Bruce Birnberg
Mr. Birnberg comments on Dr. Ira Byock’s views, as described in the Politico article, (regarding Hospice care treatment of the 70’s-80’s versus today,) ‘exemplified” in his quote that ” two-thirds of America’s hospices now belong to for-profit companies, many traded on Wall Street…” Mr. Birnberg speaks of the forseeable change in attitudes towards eldelry care, by the baby boomer generation, “who have witnessed their parents suffering and dying in institutions… Mr. Birnberg suggests that patients/caregivers should know how to ask the “right” questions to their physicians in order to make the “right” decisions…
End-of-Life care. Fear. Bruce Birnberg
Mr. Birnberg speaks of our “limited warranty” on this world and the different approaches at confronting the news of an illness/disease… and advises ‘to step back…” and do a little introspection… Mr. Birnberg enumerates the three important points that a patient/relative must discuss in detail with the physician: a) the disease trajectory, b) the treatment, c) the prognosis…Asking the questions..: on the disease, what will the disease do to my organ?, how will I die?… what to “battle” or not to “battle;” on the treatment and outcome, will the treatment work? what will be the consequence? and lastly, the prognosis, will it be cured? If not, the degrees of suffering… Mr. Birnberg then gives examples of famous individuals, like George Harrison of The Beatles who had written a (spiritual) song on “The Art of Dying,” and who languished miserably in a Staten Island hospital and his Hindu mentor, (Mahesh Prasad Varma) who “died a horrible death at the age of 90 on the operating table while having open heart surgery…” B.B. King, instead died in Hospice care, in his own home….
End-of-Life care. Obamacare. Bruce Birnberg
Mr. Birnberg speaks of candidate Obama, who once supported Hospice care (as a result of his own Grandmother’s end-of-life care) and the reality today, under the President’s Obamacare, with 14 new regulations benefiting the largest Hospice chains (“the Mac Donalds) and not the “small (non-for-profit) players…”