Bridging the Hospice Gap

Mark Dimor
Mark Dimor

Mark Dimor founded The BioContinuum Group, Inc. (BCG) with the mission to develop healthcare advertising, marketing, medical education, and strategic planning for clients. Four years ago in response to a personal tragedy he began writing, advocating, and speaking about end-of-life, palliative care, caregiving, and hospice. His goal: find meaning to these events. What he discovered was an unmet need. He’s applying his 30+ years of marketing, communications, learning, and strategic expertise to these topics to educate and convince others of its value.

“The important thing is that when you come to understand something, you act on it, no matter how small that act is. Eventually it will take you where you need to go.” Sister Helen Prejean

Some of you may have listened to my podcast series Two Voices One Perspective: End-of-Life. Carolyn, a licensed hospice social worker, and I wanted produce these podcasts to share our perspectives on end-of-life. Carolyn’s view is professional, personal, and built around knowledge and practice. It’s based on her work and education. My view is personal, emotional, and practical. It’s based on my wife’s terminal diagnosis, caregiving, and passing. Carolyn and I share a deep and abiding belief that end-of-life care offers innumerable benefits for patients, families, and loved ones. Yet it’s a topic rife with fear. Our hope is our voices will take the fear out of this topic so others facing end-of-life or just considering it embrace its benefits, hope, and value for everyone and not just the patient.

The genesis of my interest in, writing about, and producing podcasts on hospice, palliative care, and end-of-life is directly related to my wife’s illness and death. During her treatment and following her death I sought support, both one-on-one and online. It was and remains an amazing journey of learning and compassion that’s directly related to Donna’s clinical team. They not only treated her, they helped me as the caregiver and spouse. She wasn’t just a patient she was a wife, a friend, a person whose life was not simply the beating of a heart. She was the hearts of those who loved her.

I spoke with many who were in or had similar circumstances to mine and I was struck by the significant percentage who didn’t receive the same care and support Donna and I did. They spoke about how they were struggling—far greater than I—emotionally, spiritually, and financially. This resonated deeply with in me. In a sense, this is my survivors guilt; why have I done okay while others haven’t?

Healthcare marketing and communications is where my expertise and experience resides. The marketing person in me saw the gap between my experiences with Donna’s clinical care and death and those who didn’t have the same level of care. I believe this gap could be closed with messaging and narrative. Yet no matter how good the message is the vast majority of readers and those interested in this topic are believers in end-of-life care. We’re speaking in an echo chamber and in most cases only speaking to each other. The question becomes how does this message of hope during care, end-of-life, and beyond reach those who aren’t part of our audience? That’s my hope, the podcasts will extend the message to those who haven’t considered these topics.

I’d ask we all take a moment to find a message either in the podcasts Carolyn and I have done, or articles that resonate with you, or our own narratives and share them with those who aren’t part of our collective end-of-life voice. Find ways to tell our stories to strangers. I’ve written about this before but it’s worth repeating, what if we gave ribbons for end-of-life or hospice and palliative medicine and not only for survival and fighting to achieve cure. Those two ideas reside on the same continuum of hope and well being. They share the common goal, active participation in cure and active participation in end-of-life. These are platforms which give everyone a whole that is far greater than the sum of our parts.

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