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The Inside Scoop

From Heartbreak Comes Hope

By John J. Tassoni, Jr.

Hospice is considered to be the model for end-of-life care for people suffering from terminal illnesses. It comes at a time when patients need comfort care so that they can live out their last hours without pain, and with peace and dignity. This is as much for the patient’s family as it is for the patient.

Unfortunately, this was not the case with my father, John J. Tassoni, Sr. who passed away in April at age 85. My father was always a strong man, a gentle giant, who was an Air Force veteran, worked construction all his life, and raised a family of four children. Illness plagued him the last few years of his life, until there was nothing more that could be done.

Regrettably, for the last nine hours of his life, the hospice system in place failed to provide the medicine and comfort care that he needed to die with dignity due to a communications breakdown. This once strong and virile man suffered needlessly at the end.

Following the example set forth by our father, the Tassoni family took action to address these failings, in a spirit of collaboration and goodwill, so that no other family would have a similar experience. We contacted Hope Hospice & Palliative Care of Rhode Island and had a series of meetings to provide feedback regarding our experience, and discussed improvements to hospice services and practices, and most importantly, communication processes.

As a result of our combined efforts, several new communication and scheduling protocols have been put in place that will ensure consistency in meeting the needs of hospice patients and their families.

On behalf of the Tassoni family, I would like to thank the administrator of Hope Hospice & Palliative Care of Rhode Island for listening and addressing these issues promptly and compassionately, to improve the delivery of end-of-life health care.

As Diana Franchitto, president and CEO of Hope Hospice & Palliative Care of Rhode Island, stated in a recent letter to me explaining the new protocols, “Although I wish we could have become acquainted under a better circumstance, I’m pleased that we had a chance to get to know each other and work together to improve the experience of our patients and their families.”

Yes, Ms. Franchitto, perhaps the rest of the world should follow our example of conflict resolution through collaboration and cooperation. For now, I take comfort in knowing that my father would be proud of how his family handled a difficult situation that has brought about positive change for others.

WE would rather settle it in the conference room rather than the court room.