In 1979, the hospice concept—the idea of total care for terminally ill patients—was being studied by a regional committee under the sponsorship of the Mayo Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The Comprehensive Cancer Center became sensitive to the increased concern in the care of the terminally ill in the local community and decided to finance a study in conjunction with its obligations as a regional cancer center.
The committee’s charge was to define what a hospice service is, determine if there was a need in the tri-county area, and if so, to recommend the form a hospice program should take.
In the United States the hospice concept involves control of symptoms associated with advanced disease, the availability of 24 hour care, a team approach focusing on the family, not just the patient, and bereavement services to the family. Because hospice care potentially includes home visits, the study was restricted to the local population that was defined as Dodge, Fillmore, and Olmsted County residents.
The target population was cancer patients in these counties who were receiving comfort care only, and their families. Research showed there were about 200 terminal cancer patients per year in the three counties.