Ethics & Hospice - An Interview with Christy Whitney

Christy Whitney is the CEO of the highly successful Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado in Grand Junction, a community singled out by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care for its high-quality, highly efficient end-of-life medical care. Christy gave a presentation in April, 2011, at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Management and Leadership Conference in National Harbor, Md., on “Ethical Choices in a Competitive [Hospice] World.” 

In the context of increased government scrutiny of hospices’ decisions regarding who they enroll on the Medicare Hospice Benefit, as well as of increased finger-pointing going on between hospices of different corporate models, Christy explored some of the nuances of hospices’ business, marketing and enrollment practices, some of which are not truly unethical but probably deserving of careful self-reflection. She explored the balancing of ethical values of patient autonomy, beneficence and distributive justice. I caught up with Christy for an interview after her presentation at the Gaylord Convention Center, overlooking the Potomac River, to expand on these topics—as well as other challenges facing hospice leaders today.