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Not All Hospices Are The Same

Not All Hospices Are The Same

For more than 35 years, Kaweah Health Hospice has been providing physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support to terminally ill patients and their families.

In 2020, Kaweah Health recruited Ryan Howard, MD, to serve as the medical director of Kaweah Health Hospice and Palliative Medicine Services. Dr. Howard, Tulare County’s only fellowship-trained physician in hospice care, has a specific philosophy when it comes to caring for patients.

“Working to aggressively control previously unmanageable symptoms and providing empathetic and compassionate care to folks nearing the end of their lives is just what I felt called to do,” said Dr. Howard. “I wake up and go to work every day just hoping to make a positive impact on the lives of my patients and their families.”

It was through his own personal experience with his grandfather that influenced his decision to pursue additional training in palliative care. Suffering from heart disease, his grandfather decided to utilize hospice services seven months prior to his death. Dr. Howard recalls how he had such a better quality of life receiving care in the comfort of his own home. Dr. Howard is passionate about delivering the message that hospice is not about dying, it is about living your best life as long as you can with the help of a supportive team.

“We as a team at Kaweah Health Hospice are so immensely honored to care for our community” said Dr. Howard.

Loved ones of chronically ill patients share with Dr. Howard that they are not ready to give up, and he replies, “neither am I...I want to keep fighting.” Dr. Howard says it is reasonable to make adjustments based on what the individual is fighting for and creating attainable goals as patients’ conditions change. the goal to be attainable.

“To say we are doing anything other than continuing the fight would be almost offensive toward this person who has been fighting their whole life,” said Dr. Howard. “They are always going to fight, but at a decided point, the fight is for more comfort, quality of life, and maintaining their dignity.

“Hospice care can lead to a better quality of life. The number one thing we hear from families is, ‘Gosh, I wish we had done this sooner.’ ”

According to an annual survey conducted by U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kaweah Health Hospice exceeded the national average and is the highest rated hospice in the area when it comes to communicating with families, getting timely help, help for pain and symptoms, and training family to care for their loved one.

For more information on how not all hospices are the same, visit to review their findings and see how Kaweah Health stands apart.