Don Bauder 9:40 p.m., May 21
San Diego Hospice euthanized
Organization offered untraditional end-of-life care, employed untraditional financial and regulatory practices
A Medicare Audit has forced the closure of San Diego Hospice. The program helped many local souls go gentle into that good night through palliative health care, often administered within the comfort of their own homes.
But the increasing popularity of the service, which often includes extraordinary quantities of weapons-grade painkillers, led to increased scrutiny from governmental oversight groups like Medicare. "What we found," said Medicare investigator Mort Allitee, "was that some, indeed many patients in the San Diego Hospice program did not fit the criteria of having a terminal disease - that is, having six months or less to live. There were cases of people lasting five, ten years past their entry into the program."
Reached for comment, San Diego Hospice director Cathleen Pillpop said, "Last time I checked, the mortality rate remained at a steady 100%, which means that life itself is a terminal disease. Everybody in the world has a one-way ticket to a hole in the ground, and at San Diego Hospice, we tried to make the trip a little more comfortable. I don't know how that can be called a crime. Would the government rather we went out screaming after 75 years of unremitting horror before the absurdity of existence?"