NHPCO dedicates new exhibit, Hospice: A Historical Perspective

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National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization welcomed Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg to the official dedication of the new exhibit, Hospice: A Historical Perspective, on permanent display at NHPCO’s headquarters in Alexandria.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of St. Christopher’s Hospice, outside of London. Recognized as the birthplace of the modern hospice philosophy of care, the interdisciplinary model created by Dame Cicely Saunders at St. Christopher’s was introduced in the U.S. through work done at the Yale School of Nursing led by the Dean of the school, Florence Wald.

In 1978, the Hospice Demonstration Project was developed by Health Care Financing Administration (now known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) with 25 pilot sites across the country. By 1982, dedicated advocates and Congressional champions created the legislation that led to the Medicare hospice benefit. Since then, hospice care, and more recently palliative care, has been recognized as the ideal model of care for people with serious and life-limiting illness.

In the U.S., more than 1.6 million patients with life-limiting illness are cared for by hospice every year, reports NHPCO. 

Provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals and trained volunteers, hospice care offers expert pain management, symptom control, psychosocial and spiritual support, and more to patients and their families when a cure is not possible.  Palliative care brings the same philosophy of care to patients earlier in the course of a serious illness.

NHPCO, originally the National Hospice Organization, was created in 1978 to foster growth of hospice as well as innovation in care of the dying. As curators of the exhibit, Hospice: A Historical Perspective, NHPCO is honoring the legacy of the hospice community and paying tribute to the rich tapestry that makes up the history of hospice care.

During the dedication event on July 13 at NHPCO’s offices, Mayor Silberberg remarked, “I applaud NHPCO for curating this important display, not only to celebrate the contributions of a group of wonderful and dedicated hospice leaders, but as a way to let our past help inform our future.  As our nation’s leaders currently debate how to reform our health care system, I think they could learn a thing or two from Dame Cicely.”

In recent years, NHPCO staff have been reviewing historic papers, reports, publications, photographs, and other items with a focus on documenting key elements from the hospice community’s history.

During NHPCO’s Capital Campaign, funding was provided by Hospice of the Bluegrass (now Bluegrass Care Navigators) to produce a historical perspective of hospice. Display cases have been designed and installed in the offices of NHPCO to highlight and preserve a first-of-its-kind history of hospice in the United States. 

NHPCO is proud to welcome visitors who may wish to see the exhibit Hospice: A Historic Perspective. Interested individuals should contact NHPCO at 703-837-1500 to inquire about office hours and access to the exhibit.

Learn more about hospice and palliative care at NHPCO’s Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice website at www.momentsoflife.org.


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