In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

September 9, 2014

Patient says hospice program is ‘for living, not dying’

By In the Loop


Used with permission, Post-Bulletin Company

Some people think hospice care is for people who are dying. Hospice patient Judye Carlsen-Reiland isn't one of them. "Hospice is a program for living, not dying," Carlsen-Reiland wrote recently in a poem published in part in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. She was inspired to write her poem after meeting resistance to the idea of her becoming a hospice patient. She wanted to let everyone know that hospice is not giving up but instead something that "allows me to participate in the happy times, the birthdays, the weddings, the 'just glad to be alive' days."

Judye and her husband, Bob Reiland, hope that there are many more of those days ahead, thanks in part to the support of the Mayo Clinic Hospice program, whose "team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and others" are there with answers anytime they have "a question or a need." The couple wants to get the word out that hospice can help people "have a quality of life that is meaningful" -- even in the face of a serious illness.

"Hospice has been a godsend," Judye tells the P-B. "They're saving my life, too," her husband adds. Judye has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive disease that damages the lung tissue and makes it difficult to breathe. According to the P-B, she started oxygen therapy about three years ago, and had setbacks earlier this year. That's when her pulmonary provider suggested she consider palliative care, which provides support to people living with life-altering illnesses. She became a palliative care patient, and soon after, a hospice patient.

"I don't know where we'd be without hospice," Judye tells the P-B. She says the program allows her "to live independently" and provides emotional support, too, giving her "a lot of hope" and encouragement to continue doing the things that give her life purpose and meaning. Things like writing, sewing, painting and spending time with the people she loves, including her children, stepchildren and husband. The couple even recently went out for a "joy ride" in their convertible.

Judye says she's grateful to the team that's helping her enjoy the "many blessings" in her life for as long as she can. "I am forever grateful to those nurses, doctors and volunteers who make hospice work," she writes. "God bless."

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Tags: Mayo Clinic Hospice Program, Patient Stories, Practice story

Ok, so I just tossed out my definition of “hospice”. Now I need something more to replace it besides “it is for the living”. In the case of Judye, is it defined as home health care?


Kevin, I can’t speak for Judye, but her comments were about receiving care and support that allowed her to maintaing her quality of life. The Mayo Clinic Hospice program offers this: “Mayo Clinic Hospice provides professional and compassionate care to terminally ill children and adults. Care is home-based and family-centered.”


Kevin, home health care is limited. Hospice works as a team as described above. The goals are different. The goal is to make sure those who have a life threatening condition live to the best there can be.

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