Bethany Cox Snider, MD, joined Hosparus Health in 2013 and has been making an impact ever since. She was named Chief Medical Officer in February, and now leads a team of 14 physicians and eight nurse practitioners who are dedicated to providing best-in-class hospice and palliative care to our patients and families.
Dr. Snider recently shared some of her thoughts about the scope of our care, challenges we are facing, and her role in furthering our mission to improve quality of life for anyone dealing with advanced illness.
What is Hosparus Health?
Hosparus Health is a nonprofit hospice and palliative care organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for patients and families facing serious and life-limiting illness. Our medical group sees patients wherever they call home to help alleviate fears regarding their illness, optimize symptom burden and discuss their goals, treatments and preferences for their life as their condition progresses.
Often, people think of Hosparus Health as only care for dying patients, but we are so much more than that. We have a robust grief counseling program for our communities, a pediatric program serving children with life-limiting and terminal conditions, an outpatient palliative consult service and a home-based advanced illness care program to help patients live well at home while managing serious illness.
What are your biggest career challenges?
Currently, I feel my biggest career challenge is protecting the mission of Hosparus Health. Our organization has done great work for our communities for the past 40 years serving some of the most vulnerable populations. We are truly a mission driven organization that seeks to optimize quality of life. Unfortunately, in our rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, more regulatory burden is being added with less reimbursement. When you are a mission driven organization, this becomes increasingly difficult with smaller and smaller margins.
To give some historical perspective, hospice organizations were started in the U.S by volunteers. There was no profit to be had and many of us have tried to honor that history. However, today in the U.S, the number of for-profit hospices is growing while the non-profit sector continues to shrink. I want to ensure that my community benefits from the care and services of Hosparus Health for my lifetime and beyond. I see the value of these services as I too deliver direct care with our interdisciplinary teams and hope to protect that for future generations.
Who or what inspires you to go to work every day?
My patients and families inspire me every day. I am fortunate to meet them in their homes and over the years, they have taught me so many lessons on life and what is most precious. I have learned through them to value every day, to place a focus on the important things like faith and family, and how to live through challenges with grace. This work has truly impacted my life for the better and I feel extremely blessed to be in this profession.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
As mentioned above, this type of work teaches you to value your personal life above all. When you walk with families losing a child or parent or spouse, you quickly realize how truly blessed you are. My job does not matter if my family does not feel love and supported or that I am present with them because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. My husband and son are a tremendous blessing and are the motivation I need to go home every day.
Nonetheless, it is a huge challenge in medicine that generally does not receive the focus and attention it deserves. I tell my teams all the time that if you do not take care of yourself, then you cannot be a caregiver for others. This doesn’t matter if you are a paid caregiver or the caregiver of a loved one at home. Self-care is so important but also so hard and we need to refocus our priorities on what matters most in a world that is changing and demanding more of us each day.
Is there anything else you want people to know about yourself or Hosparus Health?
I hear every day from patients and families that we “wish we had called you sooner.” Unfortunately, many people have the misconception that hospice care is for the last days of life and equate palliative care to hospice care.
Today more Americans are living with serious and life-limiting illnesses but are unaware of the resources available to them. Utilizing Hosparus Health is NOT about giving up but about empowering families to choose the care that optimizes their quality of life based on their own goals and values. I want every family to know what is available to them when facing serious and life-limiting illness and we want to walk with them through this journey wherever they call home.
I cannot imagine the challenges people face when trying to navigate the healthcare system, particularly with a serious illness or terminal condition. I want them to know there are people available to them with expertise in addressing physical, emotional, social and spiritual concerns and they have the right to request this type of care.
My vision is for ALL people in our community to understand the difference in hospice and palliative care and then to feel empowered to ask for this type of care if it meets their goals and preferences. I assure you the earlier you call Hosparus Health, the more we can help!