Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thank You from Don Schumacher

When I began my professional career, 44 years ago, I never would have guessed the unique, surprising, fulfilling and meaningful career that would unfold before me. I was going to be an English professor, but my contact with Elizabeth Kubler Ross in 1975 put my feet on an entirely different path. I have been able to work with the most extraordinary people to create a model of caregiving that had been missing in our healthcare system for a very long time. These people, of which you are one, have been my teachers, critics, friends, conspirators, pranksters, dining and drinking friends and most importantly, fellow advocates ensuring the permanence of hospice and palliative care in America.

As I prepare to retire from NHPCO, I want to thank you for all you have done for the millions of Americans who have received your loving care. There is no one who stands at the bedside of a dying patient and remains untouched. I remember the first patients I cared for and the hospice team members with whom I shared my fears, energy and skill at helping that patient move on. I thank them and their descendants, you, for all you have done and continue to do for the millions who benefit from our care.

I want to thank the many of you who I have been lucky to call friends. The path has not always been smooth, and all of us have tried to be as supportive of each other as we can. However, when you are creating a movement, a new care giving model and a team based model of care, things are bound to go wrong. Pay no mind, I ask you. For what we have created went more right.

I will continue to consult with programs and people in the field so I hope to continue to see you occasionally. But…… remember every day you work in hospice and palliative care, you are building the bed you will die in. Make sure it is the one you want. From the bottom of my heart, I honor you for what you do every day. Love---


J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD
President and CEO
National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization

P.S.  I have a link I would like to share with you, Judy Collins singing "In My Life," a song that has always held special meaning for me, particularly in recent weeks. Additionally, a special NHPCO Podcast has been posted where I share reflections from my career.  I invite you to listen to both of these.

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