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© 2012 Camarillo Hospice Corporation, 400 Rosewood Avenue, Suite 102, Camarillo, CA • (805) 389-6870

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The Story of Hospice

Since the mid-1970s when hospice care was introduced in America as the most innovative, comprehensive and humane care available for people with limited life expectancies, demand for hospice care has increased every year.

The first hospice in the United States, Connecticut Hospice in Branford, on the outskirts of New Haven, was inspired by the work of Dame Cecily Saunders in England. Hospice is a care treatment philosophy of helping individuals in the final stages of life to live in dignity and comfort. It involves a marriage of disciplines: pain management, emotional and spiritual support, and family counseling. The early hospices in the United States were all volunteer organizations, that is, they offered care without charge to those in need, initially focusing on cancer patients. The care was delivered by a team of medical and nursing professionals, social workers, and spiritual counselors, volunteering their time and talent.

A group of caring community members established Camarillo Hospice in August 1978 to serve the community of Camarillo as other communities across the United States were being served by similar organizations. In the early 1993 bereavement support was expanded to include an internship program for counselors and individual and family counseling as well as support groups.

There have been many changes over the years, but the philosophy and goal of hospice care remain essentially the same. Camarillo Hospice’s commitment to providing care, comfort, support, counseling and education to individuals and families facing a life-limiting illness, grieving the death of a loved one or seeking information on end-of-life issues and directives has never wavered.

In the early 1990s, after many years of lobbying and study, a Medicare benefit was established for hospice care, so that it no longer need be strictly volunteer but could in fact replace interventional medical care with comfort care. At that time, hospices in existence were given the opportunity to become medical model hospices or remain volunteer hospices. Under the medical model, the hospice organization would be required to meet strict requirements, including a doctor’s determination that a patient probably had six months or less to live, a doctor’s referral to hospice, and the patient’s agreement to forgo further curative treatment, choosing comfort care instead.

Given the choice, most hospices already in existence chose to become medical model hospices. Camarillo Hospice, on the other hand, opted to remain a “volunteer” hospice. By statutory definition, a volunteer hospice is precluded from providing any and all medical care and must provide services free of charge.

Since the mid-1970s when hospice care was introduced in America as the most innovative, comprehensive and humane care available for people with limited life expectancies, demand for hospice care has increased every year. 

From a Camarillo Hospice client…

“The individual counseling
I received from the counselor made it easier for me to ‘unload’ my painful feelings and I was saved the embarrassment of
letting my tears flow—
difficult for me to share ‘personal’ information about my loved ones in front of a group. I am so grateful your service is available and that you have counselors who are
willing to give their
time to let people like me
who have no one to burden with my sadness.” —N. F
.