Setting the record straight about hospice care


We all know we’re going to die someday, but did you know there is a place to turn that offers specialized care and support for your loved one and your family at the end of life?

Many African Americans prefer not to think end-of-life care because we have been raised in a culture where “we take care of our own.”  However, for most people, dying well simply means being physically comfortable, at peace in your own home surrounded by your loved ones doing the things you love until the very end. This is often made possible by the best hospice care.

Hospice, by definition, provides specialized care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury through a team approach. This includes expert medical care, pain management and emotional, spiritual and volunteer support for patients and their families. But more simply, hospice care supports living one’s life to the fullest with dignity regardless of how much time remains

There are many myths surrounding hospice care, myths such as:

Myth: Hospice is a place you go to die.

Fact: Hospice provides specialized care that can be provided anywhere and most likely it will happen in the patient’s home whether it is in a private residence, nursing home or assisted living facility.

Myth: Families lose control when you enroll in hospice.

Fact: Families work with their hospice provider and can be trained as the primary caregiver supported by their hospice team. Family interaction in a patient’s care is at the very core of hospice care and helps families create more quality moments of life.

Myth: You have to give up your doctor when you enroll in hospice.

Fact: Hospice physicians work with your physician to provide this specialized care.

Myth: Hospice care is expensive.

Fact: Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance.

Myth: Hospice means we are giving up hope.

Fact: Families aren’t giving up hope or abandoning their loved ones but redefining it – redirecting it into spending quality time with family and friends, finding peace and comfort and mending and restoring relationships.

Additionally, historically African Americans have had difficulty accessing proper care because of poverty, lack of health insurance, difficulty finding a medical provider and overall distrust of the medical profession.

Fortunately, we have Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, as our nonprofit hospice provider in our community for 40 years, serving thousands in our African-American community. This quality care allows families to concentrate on what’s important at the end-of-life – making special memories for you and your loved one.

LaShante Keys, M.S. is a Community Partnership Specialist serving the African-American community for Empath Health, a nonprofit network of care for those affected by chronic or advanced illness.

For more information about Suncoast Hospice or Empath Health’s other programs call (727) 282-3932 or visit

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