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About Hospice and Palliative Care - History of Hospice
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History of Hospice

The term "hospice" was used in medieval Europe for a place where travelers could find shelter. Dame Cecily Saunders founded the modern hospice movement in London, England, in the 1960s with the establishment of St. Christopher’s Hospice, a place that sought to meet the pain, comfort and closure needs of the dying at a time when the medical establishment virtually ignored death.

The first hospice in the United States was established in 1971 in New Haven, Conn., as a way to provide similar support for dying individuals in their own homes.

The hospice movement reached a major milestone in 1983 when Congress made hospice a benefit of the Medicare program. Today, more than 4,000 hospice programs serve over one third of Americans in their last weeks and months of life each year.