Monday, December 7, 2009

A Celebration of Community Spirit, Character and Leadership: Community Inspired by “A Soldier’s Story”

Country music artist Keni Thomas, who received glowing reviews for his rendition of the National Anthem at this year’s opening game of the World Series, gave an encore presentation at the Legacy Speaker Series fundraising event on Veterans Day in Fort Myers. The event was hosted by Hope HealthCare Services and the Uncommon Friends Foundation.

Thomas was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor for his Army company’s mission in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Mogadishu mission of Thomas and his Army colleagues was detailed in the best-selling book and movie, “Black Hawk Down.” Thomas’s experiences led him to become a nationally acclaimed motivational speaker who stressed the importance of values, teamwork and leadership in his presentation, “Salute to Valor: A Soldier’s Story.”

“Keni’s inspiring motivational message was relevant to all of us and was well received by the attendees, many of whom were veterans,” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith.

The Veterans Day event highlighted Hope’s VALOR Program: Veterans’ Access to Life Opportunities and Resources. “VALOR ensures that the veterans in our care receive all of the support they deserve, including assistance in accessing and receiving their VA benefits,” Beckwith said. In addition, Hope holds a ceremony for each veteran and their families, at which they are presented with a certificate of appreciation, a lapel pin and a patriotic-themed stuffed bear. Veterans are also given the opportunity to participate in the Library of Congress Veteran’s History Project.

“The event was a way to say thank you to our veterans for serving our country,” Beckwith added.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Construction continues on the new Hope Hospice House in Lehigh Acres

“We are very excited about the progress we are making in “Bringing Hope Close to Home,’ to better serve people throughout the area,” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “We look forward to opening our doors by the first of April.” The Hope Hospice House will serve the residents of Lehigh Acres, Alva, the Gateway community, Pelican Preserve, Buckingham, LaBelle and all other communities in Hendry and Glades counties. The House is located at 1201 Wings Way, off of Beth Stacey Blvd. in Lehigh Acres.

For more information on supporting Hope’s campaign to “Bring Hope Close to Home” with its new hospice house, call (239) 489-9177 or visit

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Samira K. Beckwith Receives International Recognition with Lifetime Achievement Award 6th Annual Stevie Awards® for Women in Business

Samira K. Beckwith, President and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, has been presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. More than 1,100 entries were submitted internationally for consideration in 54 award categories.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honor women executives, entrepreneurs, and the companies they run – worldwide. The Stevie Awards have been hailed as the world’s premier business awards.

Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word “crowned,” winners were announced during a gala event at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York City.

Beckwith was honored for her lifetime achievements and accomplishments in health care.

As President and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, Beckwith is a leader in improving health care on the local, state and national levels. She has served in this position since 1991 and has more than 30 years of health care and hospice experience. Under her leadership, Hope’s services, programs, staff and volunteers have grown and now provide care for more than 2,300 people each day, through Hope Hospice and other comprehensive care programs for people with serious illness in Lee, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte and Collier counties. She has led Hope to receive numerous national awards for quality service and innovation.

Winners were chosen by a panel of business professionals worldwide.

“This is a unique honor for me and for all Hope staff members and volunteers,” Beckwith said. “It recognizes our many years of commitment and dedication as we have worked diligently to meet the healthcare needs of our community. It is a true honor to be recognized for our ongoing efforts.”

Details about The Stevie Awards for Women in Business and are available at

Samira K. Beckwith Honored by Lee County Board of Commissioners

The Lee County Board of Commissioners has honored Hope HealthCare Services President and CEO for her achievements in improving the quality of healthcare. In a Proclamation issued by the Board on December 1, Beckwith was recognized for receiving The Ohio State University Alumni Medalist Award, presented to alumni who have gained national distinction for bringing significant benefit to mankind.

The Commissioners honored Beckwith for “her hard work, dedication, and vision,” and expressed their appreciation for her commitment to the people of Lee County and southwest Florida.

“I am humbled and grateful,” Beckwith said, adding, “The honor brings light to the tireless work of Hope in caring for the people of the community. It is our privilege to serve everyone in need.”

Photo: Hope HealthCare Services President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith receives Proclamation from Lee County Commissioners Brian Bigelow, Ray Judah and Frank Mann.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

National Hospice Month: Celebrating Love and Care

During November, National Hospice Month, we at Hope reach out to the community to raise awareness about how we can help people coping with life-limiting illness, enabling them to live in comfort and with dignity.

In providing our special care, we know that one of the most important attributes of a good caregiver is listening skills. Attentiveness and effective listening help to determine the quality of care that the patient will receive. At Hope, listening is considered to be an act of love as well as a required skill.

People in need of hospice care may not always realize how their quality of life can be improved, beyond pain and symptom management. They may be reluctant to talk about the “little things” that could make it easier to get around the house, such as a home improvement. Members of our Hope Care Team listen and observe, always in search of answers to the question, “What more can we do to help?”

We meet special needs through our Hopeful Wishes program. When a person in hospice care needs something “extra” to add to their quality of life, we work to fulfill their wish. A woman in our care had been helping her daughter prepare to get married. However, as wedding time drew near, the woman became so ill that she could not leave our hospice house. Her Hope care team fulfilled a wish by arranging a wedding for her daughter in our own chapel. The mother’s bed was brought in, and the daughter was married at bedside in a ceremony led by our chaplain. A local grocery store helped with the wedding and provided the cake. It was a precious moment for everyone, as a Hopeful Wish was fulfilled in a beautiful way.

Some Hopeful Wishes are sweet and simple, such as the aging couple who simply wanted a “date night” at their favorite restaurant. With the help of the restaurant, we made it happen.

Quality of life involves much more than medical care. Emotional and spiritual needs must also be met. The “whole person” must be served. The mission of Hope is to provide exceptional care and support to every individual and their loved ones as they fulfill life’s journey. During National Hospice Month, we celebrate the love and care we provide in support of our mission. We know, and strive to help others understand, that hospice is really about living.

As we observe National Hospice Month, I encourage you to learn more about how we help the people in our community, and how you can help Hope, by visiting our Web site at or by calling Hope at (239) 482-4673 or (800) 835-1673.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hope HealthCare Services Launches New Magazine

Helpful Information, Inspiring Stories to Highlight Local Care and Programs
(Fort Myers, Fla.) – Knowing where to turn when special healthcare services are needed is vitally important to everyone. Now more than ever, people are concerned about solutions for their healthcare needs, today and in the future.
Hope HealthCare Services has created a new magazine, Wings of Hope, offering helpful information and inspiring stories about hospice and other healthcare services to meet local needs as the population grows and changes.

“Because this kind of information is so important, we are offering complimentary subscriptions to everyone,” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “It will be helpful to the families and loved ones of those who are in life’s final chapter, the frail elderly, seriously ill, and the families of children with a life-changing illness.” Beckwith said the magazine will also be a resource for those who are experiencing grief.

Wings of Hope will be published quarterly. The previous version of the Wings of Hope newsletter had been distributed to donors and supporters for more than 20 years. The premier issue of the new Wings is being released in November, National Hospice Month, a time to raise awareness of the care that Hope provides. The inaugural issue also highlights Hope programs and services for veterans, in honor of Veterans Day.

Wings of Hope magazine will be designed and produced by Times of the Islands, Inc., creators of Times of the Islands, RSW Living, Bonita Living, and Gulf & Main magazines. Publisher Friedrich N. Jaeger, a long time supporter and advocate of Hope HealthCare Services, notes, “We are delighted to partner with the local Hope organization to produce a quality and informative magazine, and are honored to help spread the word about the many worthwhile and important aspects of their services and programs.”

To subscribe to the new Wings of Hope, please call (239) 985-7792, or subscribe online at

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hope Healthcare Services Named Start! Fit Friendly Company

Hope HealthCare Services has been recognized by the American Heart Association’s Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program for going above and beyond when it comes to employee health. In the Heart Association’s effort to promote physical activity and health in the workplace, Hope is one of three hospice organizations in the country to receive this distinction.

The Start! Fit-Friendly program recognizes progressive leadership and concern for the health of each staff member. Hope has been recognized for meeting the Heart Association’s criteria for employee fitness.

“We feel that we have achieved this honor because we really want the best for our staff, just as we want to provide the best care for everyone in the community,” according to Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “The best healthcare can be provided only by a healthy staff. We are encouraging other hospices around the country to set this goal.”

Adult Americans spend most of their waking hours at work. Many of those hours are spent sitting at a desk. This makes them vulnerable to health risks associated with inactive lifestyles. Studies suggest that by starting a worksite physical activity program and promoting a culture of activity, an organization can:

  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Lower turnover
  • Reduce healthcare costs
  • Encourage employees to live longer, healthier lives

Hope’s efforts to promote employee health and fitness include:

  • A walking program, with walking routes at each office location
  • Weekly e-mail messages about nutrition and exercise
  • Yoga classes
  • Discounts at local gyms
  • Healthy snacks in vending machines
  • Staff members are also encouraged to use the stairs rather than the elevator.

Organizations and individuals interested in participating in the Heart Walk or Fit-Friendly program can contact the American Heart Association at (239) 498-9288 or

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Samira K. Beckwith receives the Alumni Medalist Award from Archie Griffin at The Ohio State University Alumni Association Annual Awards Ceremony

Samira K. Beckwith, President and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services, became only the 25th recipient of The Ohio State University Alumni Medalist Award on Sept. 25 in Columbus.

The award is the single highest honor accorded by The Ohio State University Alumni Association and is presented to alumni who have gained national or international distinction as outstanding exponents of a chosen field of profession and have brought extraordinary credit to the university and significant benefit to humankind.

Beckwith, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work at The Ohio State University, has served as president and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services since 1991. Under nearly two decades of Beckwith’s leadership, Hope has grown from serving fewer than 100 patients a day to more than 2,000 patients in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties. Additionally, Hope has been recognized as a national leader in hospice and palliative care by numerous healthcare organizations.

Previous recipients of the Alumni Medalist Award include William Lowrie (2008), president of Amoco Corp.; Leslie Wexner (1990), president and chairman of The Limited Inc., and Ray Groves (2001), chair and CEO of Ernst and Young (retired).

“To say this is an honor seems an understatement,” Beckwith said. “I’m truly humbled to be included among the members of this prestigious alumni group. Being recognized for my life’s work and my passion for caring for others is extremely fulfilling.”

Archie Griffin, president and CEO of The Ohio State University Alumni Association, said the selection jury – comprised of alumni from around the nation – recommended Beckwith to the Association’s board of directors. “This exceptional recognition is extended by the Association to alumni who have given sustained leadership, their time, and their talent to the university,” Griffin said.

The 2009 Alumni Medalist Award was conferred during the association’s 51st annual awards ceremony on Sept. 25. In addition to being inducted into The Ohio State University College of Social Work Hall of Fame in 2007, Beckwith previously received the APEX Award from the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and was named Gulfshore Life Magazine’s Woman of the Year, Survivor of the Year for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and a laureate of Junior Achievement of Lee County’s Business Leadership Hall of Fame.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pediatric Patient Creates Music CD

Alex Rodriguez is a 17 year-old patient in Hope's Partners in Care program and The Children’s Hospital’s Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) program. Alex has Congenital Mitochondrial Myopathy, which affects muscle movement and speech. The music therapy he has received has enabled him to develop his music and production skills, leading him to create his own music CD on his computer, along with a video accompaniment.

The two programs’ staff and volunteers held a CD release party in his honor. Alex gave autographed copies to family and friends.

“This is a great example of how we help children and young people in our care to find as much enjoyment and fulfillment in life as possible,” according to Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “Alex has made a great accomplishment, and everyone on his care team is very proud of him.” Beckwith added that Hope was the first hospice to offer the PIC program and played a critical role in introducing it nationwide.

Visit our Partners in Care page to find out more about this special program for children.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hope HealthCare Services Offers Lee County’s Only Parkinson Program

Edward Steinmetz, MD Named Program’s Medical Director

Hope HealthCare Services President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith has announced the introduction of the Hope Parkinson Program, the only Parkinson support program in Lee County.

Beckwith named Edward F. Steinmetz, MD, as the program’s Medical Director. Steinmetz has been affiliated with Neurology Associates of Lee County since 1973, where he will continue to practice.

More than one million Americans have Parkinson’s disease, a chronic illness that affects the nervous system. The symptoms come on gradually and are often assumed to be a normal part of aging. The symptoms will continue to worsen over time unless they are treated.

The mission of the Hope Parkinson Program is to provide those suffering from the illness with support, counseling and other services they need for quality of life.

“The Hope Parkinson Program is an important addition to our other care programs for those living with chronic illness,” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. All of the services that Hope provides are focused on the individual rather than the disease. We are able to take this same approach with our Parkinson program, addressing the needs and expectations that each person has for their own health care and well-being.”

Beckwith pointed out that there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. The Hope Parkinson Program’s services and activities enable people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers to experience the fullness of life through knowledge, movement, creativity and fellowship – all important components of treatment. They include:
  • Regular educational and support group meetings
  • Referrals for medical care
  • Exercise and movement classes
  • Walking programs
  • Socialization
“Parkinson patients can live well with this disease,” according to Dr. Steinmetz. “I am pleased to work with Hope in providing the specialized care and support that the patients and their families need.”

For more information about the Hope Parkinson Program, call (239) 482-4673.

Hope Hospice, Highlands Regional Medical Center Introduce First Hospice In-Patient Program in Highlands County

Hope Hospice and Highlands Regional Medical Center have announced plans to introduce the first hospice in-patient care program in Highlands County. “Hope at Highlands Regional” will be located on the second floor of the Sebring hospital in an area specially designed for hospice care. It will include seven patient care suites and a family room and will be attended by hospice staff 24 hours a day.

While Hope currently provides hospice care to many Highlands County residents in their own homes, the in-patient program will enable Hope to better meet special needs while offering the community much greater access to services.

All of the hospital’s amenities will be available to hospice patients’ families, including food services, convenient parking and after-hours security.

The program is scheduled to begin in July.

“Hope Hospice has served the residents of southwest Florida for 30 years and we were privileged to begin providing service in Highlands County in 2006. We immediately saw the need for an in-patient hospice program here,” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “Among the many fine hospitals in the area, we were fortunate that Highlands Regional was able to make this accommodation, which uses our combined resources very efficiently and at no cost to the community. We are grateful to Robert Mahaffey, the CEO and Administrator, for collaborating with us in this major step forward in local health care.” Beckwith added that a local contractor and other local businesses are involved in the renovation being undertaken for Hope at Highlands Regional.

“We are delighted to welcome Hope Hospice to Highlands Regional,” Mahaffey said. “This partnership will greatly benefit the community, as Highlands Regional Medical Center and Hope Hospice are both dedicated to providing quality, compassionate care, focused on exceptional customer service. This takes health care to a new level in Highlands County and the surrounding area.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Canterbury School Raises Money for Hope

Over the past four years, the Canterbury class of 09 held several fundraisers, amounting to $2,300.

A few weeks ago, the student council had to decide where the money should go. They saw the story on TV about ground being broken for a new Hope Hospice House in Lehigh Acres, to better serve the community. They decided that’s where their money should go.

From left: Dave Knific, Nathaniel Liu, Head of School Tony Paulus, John Strickling of Hope Hospice, Barkha Shah, Sara-Marie Hopf, Kelly Mercer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NHPCO Conference in Washington, DC

Samira K. Beckwith, President and CEO of Hope Hospice and Community Services, was a featured speaker at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Management and Leadership Conference April 23-25 in Washington, DC, where more than 1,600 health care leaders and experts joined to address health care reform and other issues.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was the Master of Ceremonies at the National Hospice Foundation gala, held in conjunction with the conference.

The annual gala is a philanthropic event supporting efforts to expand and improve care at the end of life.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Groundbreaking ceremony for new Hope Hospice in Lehigh

A symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hope Hospice building was held Thursday morning in Lehigh Acres. From left: Lee County commissioner Frank Mann, Kraft Construction CEO Fred Pezeshkan, Hope HealthCare Services President and CEO Samira Beckwith, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, and Hope Hospice Chairman of the Board Dick Ackert.

Originally published in the Fort Myers News-Press

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack joined Hope Healthcare Services President and CEO Samira Beckwith in the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Hope Hospice House in Lehigh Acres, Thursday morning.

“This is a very special and unique opportunity to bring hope close to home,” said Beckwith.

Mack said he has personally attested the benefits that Hope Hospice brings to the community. “It truly makes a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

The event, held at 9 Beth Stacey Lane, included a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony by Mack, Beckwith, Kraft Construction CEO Fred Pezeshkan, Lee County commissioner Frank Mann and Hope Hospice Chariman of the Board Dick Ackert.

The 45,000-sq.-ft. hospice will include 24 private patient case suites, counseling offices, a chapel and community education rooms.

A $5 million capital campaign is underway to collect funds to offset the new building, scheduled to open in 2010.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hog Roast for Hope

The owners, staff and patrons of Cheers N’ Beers in Lakeport raised $5,678.00 at their 13th Annual Hog Roast for Hope on May 24.

“We are deeply grateful for the continuing support of the Lakeport area residents,” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “With their help, we are able to care for everyone in need of our services, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Celebration of Women

A champagne reception, silent auction and a fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue and the Bell Tower Shops were highlights of the second annual Celebration of Women to benefit Hope Hospice on May 1 at Harborside Event Center. More than 700 people attended.

The celebration was chaired by Erleene Sanders. Kraft Construction and the George and Mary Jo Sanders Foundation were the event’s Gold Sponsors.

“The Celebration of Women has quickly become one of Fort Myers’ great annual events,” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “It is such a fun way to support our community, and we are grateful to everyone who participated.”

Monday, April 20, 2009

Women’s Committee for Hope Hospice at Bonita Springs Raises $22,000 at Annual Spring Luncheon

The Women's Committee for Hope Hospice at Bonita Springs, now in its eighth year of supporting Hope, raised $22,000 at the annual Spring Luncheon at Audubon Country Club on Monday, April 20.

All proceeds from the luncheon benefit Joanne’s House at Hope Hospice in Bonita Springs.

The 300 luncheon attendees shopped at various boutiques during the reception. Participating businesses included: Empire Gems; Paper Merchant and Little Merchant; Baubles and Beads; Freddie Jean Jewelry; Marjorie Bloom Decorative Shell Accessories; Botanstix; and Renata Glass.

An informal fashion show featuring designs from Kathryn's of Naples was enjoyed by everyone.

The luncheon was chaired by Patt Suwyn and Lorrie Theorin.

Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith was the featured speaker, thanking the members of the Women’s Committee for their tireless commitment that enables Hope to continue its mission to provide exceptional care and support to every individual and their loved ones as they fulfill life’s journey.

Friday, March 27, 2009

90-year old Bonita Springs Accordionist, “Hope Hospice Entertainer” Performs on The Tonight Show

For the past four years, Viola Witt has regularly entertained patients at Joanne’s House at Hope Hospice in Bonita Springs, singing and playing her accordion. Her audience sings along, using pages of printed lyrics. With a smile in her voice, Viola tells them, "We're going to go page by page, and when you get tired, kick me out." She plays energetically for two hours.

Her son contacted The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which often features seniors with special talents. Viola was invited to the show, where she performed on Thursday, March 26.

“Viola deserves that kind of recognition,” said Hope Hospice and Community Services President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “She has been visiting our hospice house in Bonita Springs for years, bringing so much happiness to those in our care. Everyone has fun when Viola is here.” Beckwith added that Hope continuously works to create special moments for their patients, helping them to live their lives to the fullest. “Hospice care is so much more than physical comfort,” Beckwith said. “Emotional comfort, maintaining your dignity and enjoying the moment are all important to those in our care. Meeting those special needs supports our mission to provide exceptional care and support to every individual and their loved ones as they fulfill life’s journey.”

Photo: Samira K. Beckwith, President and CEO of Hope Hospice and Community Services, presents Viola Witt with a Hope butterfly bracelet, in appreciation of her sharing her time and talents with Hope’s patients. Viola wore the bracelet when she performed on the Tonight Show.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Samira K. Beckwith leads the Susan G. Komen Race as Survivor of the Year

More than 8,000 people walked, ran or cheered at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on March 14 in Fort Myers. Samira Beckwith led the race as Survivor of the Year.

When she was 24 years old, she dealt with Hodgkin's Disease, a lymph nodes cancer. The experience inspired her to help others and led her to Hope Hospice.

At age 49, she learned she had breast cancer. She handled it with the same philosophy she formed when dealing with her first bout of cancer.

"I always try to look at what I can do, not what I can't do," Samira said.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ichabod’s in Fort Myers is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by supporting Hope!

On Saturday, March 14 from noon until 2 am, Ichabod’s will host an indoor and outdoor celebration at their restaurant and pub, located at 13851 South Tamiami Trail.

A $10 cover charge will give you access to food and drink specials and live music at several venues.

Proceeds will benefit Hope.

Please consume responsibly.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"Do Not Resuscitate" versus "Natural Death"

It's more than just semantics: For patients and families, it's about making an informed decision. 
Could three words change the way questions: severely ill patients and their loved ones think about death?

Spiritual leaders and some medical staff at hospitals across the USA believe so, and they are reconsidering how they pose one of life's toughest questions: Do you want to sign a "Do Not Resuscitate" form?

When they ask, family members often balk. They believe they are giving up, condemning a loved one to death.

Some are now asking the question a different way: Do you want to allow natural death? Do not resuscitate. Allow natural death. Both phrases are uttered at the same time - the moment when doctors believe they have exhausted treatment options and death is inevitable.

But Lee Memorial Health System specialists are finding semantics do matter. "More often than not, the body language of the family will soften" when the phrase "allow natural death" is used, says the Rev. Cynthia Brasher, spiritual services director. "It shifts the burden."

Specific meaning for 'do not resuscitate' 
A study published last year in the journal of Medical Ethics measured how often nurses. student nurses and people with no health care backgrounds would endorse allowing death to progress when they were approached with the phrase "do not resuscitate" vs. "allow natural death." The nurses were likely to support the dying process regardless, but all three groups reported a greater likeliness to forgo resuscitation if "allow natural death" was used.

Some intensive-care doctors say the words "do not resuscitate" can't yet disappear. That phrase carries a specific command to the attending medical team. Razak Dosani, head of Lee Memorial Hospital's intensive-care unit, says "do not resuscitate" means doctors will not perform cardiac resuscitation. But they will do everything up to that point. That might not be what the family or patient really wants.

"Allow natural death" suggests doctors will offer only comfort measures, because any other aggressive treatment, such as intubation, may only prolong death.

Intensive-care doctors believe adding new terminology will help families with their decision.

Only about 20% of Americans have advanced directives leaving their loved ones to make the call if they are too sick to do so. Brasher says she knows of only one other hospital in Florida - the Miami Children's Hospital - that uses similar terminology. It is not clear, she says, how many other health organizations across the country use it, but enough are doing so to pique the interest of scholars who are studying how words affect end-of-life decisions.

"Our argument is it's more humane and more compassionate," Brasher says.

Debate drives discussions about death 
The semantic shift is a sliver of a broader question: how to talk about death, disease and the limitations of medicine. The conversations are more crucial than ever as doctors amass an arsenal of technologies to keep people alive - and a growing list of ethical dilemmas about the nature of life artificially supported.

"Allow natural death" isn't a new concept.

Sarnira Beckwith, CEO of Hope Hospice in Fort Myers, says a statewide task force a decade ago looked at adopting the language on its Do Not Resuscitate forms. That didn't happen, Beckwith says, but it got health care providers talking. Hope Hospice providers use "allow natural death," along with other terminology, to make sure patients and family understand their options.

"Our greatest responsibility is to listen to the person and find the language that is best understood by them," Beckwith says.

St. David's Health Care in Texas adopted the "allow natural death" terminology eight years ago, championed by the manager of spiritual care, the late Rev. Chuck Meyer, and his successor, the Rev. Arily Donahue-Adams.

"I think people are much more comfortable with that," says Donahue-Adams, who first introduced the switch at the system's Round Rock Medical Center in Texas. 'They hear 'allow natural death' and say, 'Well, that's exactly what we want. We want a death that is as natural as possible."

Frank Chessa, director of clinical ethics at Maine Medical Center, understands the rationale but questions its usefulness. He argues the pluase isn't specific enough. "'Allow natural death' to my ear is ambiguous between 'do not resuscitate' and 'comfort measures only,'" Chessa says.

He suggests using no such terminology but rather explaining patients' options with specific examples of potential life-prolonging therapies. Many hospitals, Chessa says, are using lengthy, specific end-of-life order sets to decide on everything from CPR to dialysis to intubation to blood transfusions.

Dosani and Marilyn Kole, the Lee Memorial medical director for intensive care, say explaining terminology, options and implications of their choices will allow family members to make the best decisions for their loved ones. ''That's one of the things lacking in our medical community," Dosani says. ''We need to take time and educate."