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Short on staff, some U.S. hospices are asking new patients to wait.

Anne Cotton had enjoyed her years at an assisted living facility in Corvallis, Ore. But at 89, her health problems began to mount: heart failure, weakness from post-polio syndrome, a 30-pound weight loss in a year.

“I’m in a wheelchair,” she said. “I’m getting weaker. I’m having trouble breathing.” On Sept. 30, Dr. Helen Kao, her palliative care doctor and a medical director at Lumina Hospice & Palliative Care, determined that she qualified for hospice services — in which a team of nurses, aides, social workers, a doctor and a chaplain help patients through their final weeks and months, usually at home.

Ms. Cotton, a retired accountant and real estate broker, embraced the idea. “I’ve lived a very full life,” she said. “I’m hoping I’m near the end. I need the help hospice gives.” Her sister died in Lumina’s care; she wants the same support. For older patients, Medicare pays the cost.

But Lumina and other hospices that serve Benton County, Ore., are grappling with pandemic-fueled staff shortages, which have forced them at times to turn away new patients or delay their enrollment — as it did with Ms. Cotton. “It’s devastating,” Dr. Kao said.


My/MI opinion: It is puzzling to see that the entire United States is not united on the effects of a pandemic on the healthcare system. Yes, people have to make a living and go outside and consume products so the government can receive taxes, but it is notable, that many people are not buying that philosophy. They are cautious, because without healthcare, nothing else matters.
./////Es desconcertante ver que todo Estados Unidos no está unido sobre los efectos de una pandemia en el sistema de salud. Sí, la gente tiene que ganarse la vida y salir y consumir productos para que el gobierno pueda recibir impuestos, pero es notable que mucha gente no esté comprando esa filosofía. Son cautelosos, porque sin atención médica, nada más importa.