News on Doctor’s Role in Hospice

Dr. Vidal Espeleta, Medical Director for Hospice Care of the West, joined the local morning news in a fascinating interview about the role of the doctor in making the decisions that determine quality of life for his patients and their families. Click below to watch the local Channel 6 News show with Dr. Espeleta.

As an intensive care physician and pulmonologist at Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills, Dr. Espeleta must have the conversation with families about hospice and end-of-life issues. Hospice is comfort-focused care provided at home by a multidisciplinary team—doctor, nurse, social worker and spiritual care coordinator—for patients with life-changing diseases and their families.

Dr. Espeleta chooses to work with Hospice Care of the West because of their philosophy to keep patients on the same medications and collaborate seamlessly with the physicians to ensure their patients maintain and improve quality of life when they transition from the hospital to home.

He is on-call with a team of hospice medical directors around the clock, 24-7, to oversee medical care and work with the on-site nurses to provide pain relief for patients on hospice. He recommends hospice for patients wishing to spend their last days at home surrounded by family and friends rather than in a hospital connected to life support machines.

In the intensive care unit at the hospital, Dr. Espeleta often has to make split-second decisions to connect a patient to life support. These are the crisis moments when he has to speak to the family to find out what the patient’s wishes are because the patient can’t communicate. Dr. Espeleta says these decisions are often burdens to the family members in an already difficult hour.

The way we can prevent our families from making these kinds of decisions is to have conversations about our wishes with our families and doctors before the crisis. Do you want to be on a

ventilator, or other life support measures? Read more about the kinds of questions that can guide you through these conversations. Do you want to spend your last days at home? Nine out 10 Americans say they want to be home surrounded by friends and family, yet so many patients take their last glances of life in the intensive care unit of hospital connected to machines. Check out advance directives here to record your healthcare decisions and give them to your family and doctors.

As Dr. Espeleta finds, most of his patients and their families want to take this journey at home and hospice is the best solution to make that last wish a reality.

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