The History of Hospice
The word "hospice" stems from the Latin word "hospitium" meaning guesthouse. It was originally used to describe a place of shelter for weary and sick travelers returning from religious pilgrimages. During the 1960's, Dr. Cicely Saunders, a British physician began the modern hospice movement by establishing St. Christopher's Hospice near London which is still in operation today. St. Christopher's organized a team approach to professional care giving, and was the first program to use modern pain management techniques to compassionately care for the dying.
The first hospice in the United States was established in New Haven, Connecticut in 1974 and is still in operation. What began as a grass-roots volunteer movement has evolved into a well-recognized part of the United States health care system. The Medicare Hospice Benefit was made a permanent part of Medicare entitlement by Congress in 1986. Today, there are approximately 4,850 hospice programs in the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam. Hospice programs cared for nearly 1,450,000 people in the United States in 2008.
Today, people with a life-threatening disease and those who are at the end of their lives, have more choices in the kinds of care available to them. Today, individuals experiencing the last months of a long and debilitating illness have several options for treatment and many decisions to make. Lion's team of physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains can help to clarify options, provide information and promote open communication among patient, family and professional care givers.
"Your service was my best help. I do not know what I would have done without your help, support, prayer, concern and compassion. God bless you, Jesus lives and works through you."