Hospice (definition of)
Hospice services are those provided to patients at the end of life, including brief inpatient care, palliative care, and pain management. Hospice services allow those with terminal illnesses, like some with mesothelioma, to be cared for and made as comfortable as possible. Unlike hospitals, these facilities allow family members to remain close to their loved one during his/her final days.
Hospices date back to the Middle Ages, when the first hospice was opened on the island of Rhodes by the Order of the Knights Hospitaller in order to provide refuge for travelers and medical care for the sick and dying. This Order was only one of several that flourished in late medieval times that provided services for the poor; however, between the Inquisition and the rise of Calvinism in the early 1500s (a Reformation movement that still considers poverty as Divine Judgment), most such orders were eliminated.
Hospices were revived in the 1600s by the Order of Saint Vincent de Paul, and grew in importance over the next three hundred years under similar mendicant orders.
The modern hospice movement has encountered resistance from many sides, but have continued to grow in popularity. In the U.K., hospices are funded by charities; patients are not charged for these services.
In the U.S. health care system, hospices represent a multi-billion dollar industry. Medicare and most insurance plans cover at least part of the costs of hospice care; currently, nearly one million patients a year, representing about a third of all dying Americans, are able to use hospice services.
As of this writing, there are over 3500 operating hospices in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.