A Unique Children’s Hospice that Combines Zen and Christian Principals

Tim Langdell – Academia.edu – 2015

The hard, cold fact is that in our society children are apparently not “meant” to die: yet on average every day, in Southern California alone, a child dies of cancer or some other terminal disease, often dying in agony arising from our society’s obsession with cure over comfort, and often in the sterile environment of an Emergency Department or a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The lucky few who are able to spend their last days at home, often do so in poverty-stricken conditions, too often without their parents or immediate family because they have been deported, and in circumstances that are far from ideal for what any compassionate person might see as those likely to contribute to a “good death.” One in four child deaths in California each year is due to cancer, and despite over a hundred hospice organizations in Southern California serving the elderly population, there is only one children’s hospice organization and they only serve patients in their own homes. Whereas Medicare and Medi-Cal cover one hundred percent of all medical care costs for the end of life care of an elderly person, there is no such coverage for children’s end-of-life care since they do not qualify for either Medicare or Medi-Cal. Even the best health insurance will not cover anywhere close to all of the costs of end of life care of a child dying from a terminal disease: costs that can often run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, particularly where extremely expensive experimental chemotherapy and other drugs are used to try to extend the life of a child with cancer, regardless of the quality of that life so extended. Metta Maria envisions a series of philanthropist-supported children’s hospice care facilities, each located adjacent to acute care hospitals treating children at end of life, with the goal of providing as “home like” environment as possible for each child’s final days or hours, all designed and run from a foundation of the Five Buddha Families, the Three Tenets, and core teachings of both Buddha and Christ on the nature of compassionate care for the dying.

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