Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Annals of Internal Medicine has an article from the San Diego Hospice about " The Academic Hospice." It is a brief introduction of the relatively new (& according to the authors, exclusive field as there are only 6 in the US) phenomenon. It is written with the confidence of a specialty/field which is about to come into its own in the mainstream of US medicine. What, however, is most interesting about the piece are its several opening paragraphs weaving together the history of hospice with the history of medicine. A sample:
The link between medicine and religion was inextricable until the Renaissance. Religious societies ran the earliest institutions called hospices that cared for the ill, primarily people who became ill while traveling. People either recovered and continued traveling, or died. The words hospitality, hotel, hospice, hostel, and hospital are all derived from the same Latin root word hospes, meaning "guest". Hospitals as identifiable institutions evolved from these early efforts. For example, St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London was founded in 1123. At the time, there was no practical difference between the meaning of hospital and hospice. Hospitals as institutions for teaching evolved from the observation that the care and study of patients are more convenient for physicians if the patients are assembled in one place. The need for hospitals to "market" themselves also evolved. Records from 1544 from St. Bartholomew's Hospital indicate that patients were not to be admitted if they had incurable diseases or conditions. The hospital apparently wanted a reputation for caring for people who could be cured. Subsequently, the term hospice was reserved for dedicated places for the care of patients who were incurably ill (and poor). These hospices were mostly administered and staffed by Christian religious orders in France, Ireland, Scotland, and England. In the United States, early examples of hospice care were the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne and Calvary Hospital, both located in New York City.