Friday, June 28, 2013

The Most Unhelpful Phrase in Health Care? "Do Everything"

What does it mean to “do everything” at the end of life? Advancements in medical technology provide us with many options when facing a life-limiting illness; however, it isn't always clear that these procedures benefit the patients they are intended to help. Some treatment options may cause significant pain and suffering.

The phrase “do everything” creates misunderstandings between physicians and family members. Does it mean performing the maximum number of medical interventions – even if the patient could not reasonably be expected to benefit from treatments?

By using terminology like “do everything,” we cut off meaningful discussions. It prohibits us from making informed choices. Families may turn to this phrase as a way of communicating their emotional distress and fear of abandonment. Instead, physicians and family members should have longer - real - conversations, exploring what can be done, and why.

The first question can be, “what can we do to help your loved one?” When answering this question, we will talk about the patient and family’s goals. Are we hoping for recovery? What comfort measures will be sacrificed by agreeing to further interventions? A meaningful conversation can address the goals of care and illustrate the different options that are available.

We need to realize that there is no way to truly “do everything” for a loved one. There are always choices to be made. We cannot hold a loved one's hand at the same moment that the code team yells “clear” and attempt defibrillation. We can choose either path, but we cannot do both. By acknowledging this reality, we can make thoughtful, informed decisions about what we really want.

Further Reading: “The Darkening Veil of ‘Do Everything,’” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine; August 2012; 166(8):694-695. Feudtner C and Morrison W; Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medical Ethics, and Pediatric Advanced Care Team, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hope Creates “Personal Treasures” for Hospice Families

Memories can take special - and unusual - forms at Hope Hospice. At a family member’s request, a patient’s boxer shorts were actually transformed into a precious little teddy bear, which became a comforting companion.

Favorite or memorable items of clothing are what Hope calls Personal Treasures, thanks to their sewing volunteers.

“Family members have said to us, I will always think of my husband, or my Dad, in his favorite shirt. They will tell us how much Mom enjoyed lounging in her favorite bathrobe,’” said Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith. “To help preserve the memory, we asked our volunteers to create keepsakes, such as cuddly bears or cozy pillows out of the patient’s clothing, if requested by the family.”

Beckwith said that since the project began in 2007, several hundred Personal Treasures have been created, each one evoking memories and smiles.

“We have had some rather unusual requests, such as the boxer shorts, but we know that each one is important, so we make it happen,” she said.

Jerseys, bowling shirts, bathrobes, skirts and blankets have all been turned into bears and pillows.

“It’s one more thing that we can do for the families in our care, to give them a special kind of comfort on life’s journey,” Beckwith said.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Watch Hope President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith on Lee Pitts Live

Don't miss Samira's interview with Lee Pitts on YouTube. Lee Pitts Live is the longest running local television talk show in southwest Florida. Now in its twentieth year, the show features local celebrities, entertainers, elected officials and other power players throughout the area.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Updated Caregiver Support Groups

Explore ways of coping with many of the emotional and physical issues that accompany caregiving. These ongoing groups are open to anyone in a caregiver role, at no cost. It's an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and to encourage those who are in similar circumstances.

Caregiver Support Groups:

  • Hope Bonita Springs Community Room, 27200 Imperial Parkway; every Wednesday at 11 a.m.; contact Renee Young at or 239-985-2482 
  • Hope Lehigh Acres Community Room, 1201 Wings Way; every Saturday at 2 p.m.; contact Carolyn Divers at or 239-333-4250
  • Hope North Fort Myers Community Center, 13821 N. Cleveland Ave.; every Thursday at 1:30 p.m.; contact Tricia Betters-Black at or 239-985-2485
  • Hope HealthPark Community Room A, 9470 HealthPark Circle; every Wednesday at 1 p.m.; contact Judy Lenz at or 239-590-0276 

Parkinson’s Disease Caregiver Support Groups:

  • Faith United Methodist Church, 15690 McGregor Blvd.; First Wednesday at 10 a.m.
  • Cape Wellness Center, 609 SE 13th Court; First Thursday at 1 p.m. 

Contact Michelle Martin at for more information about Parkinson’s disease caregiver support groups.