WASHINGTON (August 22, 2000) -- True palliative care of terminally ill people treats both body and soul, note experts speaking in Final Blessing, a documentary from the U.S. bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC). Doctors Michael Kearney of Dublin, Ireland, and Ira Byock of Missoula, Montana, demonstrate how such integrated care can be delivered in Final Blessing. The one-hour program will air on public TV stations nationwide in September.
In Dublin, viewers meet patients young and old who have come to Dr. Kearney's hospice care program. Rather than avoiding the issue of dying, care givers encourage patients to prepare spiritually for death as they use modern medical techniques to abate physical pain.
In Montana, a terminally ill cancer patient participating in Dr. Byock's Missoula Demonstration Project voices gratitude that he did not die suddenly and is thankful for time to prepare for death and to spend time with his family and friends. The "final blessing" he and the other patients in the program receive is the understanding and acceptance of their care givers and families.
"The attitude towards death of the patients we meet in Final Blessing was somewhat surprising," says the CCC's Director of Production, Ellen McCloskey, executive producer of the program. "They were more afraid of the process of dying than of death itself. We learned that they need trust and understanding from those who care for them as much as they need medicine to control pain."
Today, there are more than 3,100 hospice programs in the United States. About half of the hospices are associated with home health agencies or hospitals. In 1998, more than 540,000 persons chose hospice care in the United States. These programs not only provide physical comfort to the dying person, but provide spiritual support for the patient and his or her family.
Originally broadcast on NBC stations, Final Blessing was produced for the CCC by Journey Films of Alexandria, Va. It received a CINE Golden Eagle, the Gold Award from Worldfest Charleston, and certificates of merit from the Gabriel Awards and the U.S. International Film and Video Festival.
Final Blessing is being offered to public television stations by the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) located in Columbia, S.C. Viewers can check local listings for specific broadcast dates and times for Final Blessing, or find them on the Catholic Communication Campaign's Internet site, www.nccbuscc.org/ccc.
The Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) produces and supports media projects that promote Gospel values and bring the Catholic Church's message to the marketplace.