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Prelude to Hospice
Florence Wald, Dying People, and their Families. Critical Issues in Health and Medicine Series
Hospices have played a critical role in transforming ideas about death and dying. Viewing death as a natural event, hospices seek to enable people approaching mortality to live as fully and painlessly as possible. Award-winning medical historian Emily K. Abel provides insight into several important issues surrounding the growth of hospice care. Using a unique set of records, Prelude to Hospice expands our understanding of the history of U.S. hospices. Compiled largely by Florence Wald, the founder of the first U.S. hospice, the records provide a detailed account of her experiences studying and caring for dying people and their families in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although Wald never published a report of her findings, she often presented her material informally. Like many others seeking to found new institutions, she believed she could garner support only by demonstrating that her facility would be superior in every respect to what currently existed. As a result, she generated inflated expectations about what a hospice could accomplish. Wald's records enable us to glimpse the complexities of the work of tending to dying people.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"Emily Abel is one of the most respected, influential historians working on family care giving and now, more recently, death and dying."--Patricia D'Antonio "director, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing" "For those doing research on death and dying, this book is a must read; it provides a quick and easy-to-understand testimony from people experiencing hospice. Readers may gain inspiration on how to make death a more comfortable process for their patients, their families, or themselves."--Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD "Choice" "If you're looking for a case study on a dysfunctional research and clinical team, hamstrung by hierarchy and hobbled by boundary violations, this book will leave your mouth ajar."--Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD "The Gerontologist" "New Scholarly Books: Weekly Book List, June 8" by Nina C. Ayoub--Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD "Chronicle of Higher Education" "Partly inspired by Cicely Saunders, [Florence Wald] knew there was a better way to care for the terminally ill and their families. But it was anything but an easy road. This book describes the personal, professional, institutional and societal hurdles she came up against." --Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD "IAHPC Newsletter/HospiceCare.com" "Emily Abel is a distinguished scholar of medicine, nursing, and caregiving. Her latest book, Prelude to Hospice, offers powerful testimony from patients at the moment when many realized that medical progress had limits, and that technology sometimes needs to give way to care. Her portrayal of Florence Wald shows her deep understanding of the changing role of nurses in the second half of the twentieth century. Anyone who wants to understand the origins of hospice in the United States, the challenges of caregiving, and the ways that today's dilemmas at the end of life were present at the origins of the palliative care movement should read her compelling new book."--Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD "historian and palliative care physician" "Abel's book is a timely portrayal of one of the founders of the modern hospice movement. In learning about Ms. Wald, it is our responsibility as the reader to take the good, learn from the bad, and continue to build upon and evolve Ms. Wald's legacy to embrace suffering, loss, and hurt with compassion and empathy."
--Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD "Omega"