A Family End-Of-Life Experience Guides a Physician's Hospice Career

When Marvin Doroshow was dying from dementia in a nursing facility that did not offer hospice care, his wife felt obligated to do anything and everything to extend his life.“It was difficult watching him go through that,” recalls their son, Larry Doroshow, D.O., R.Ph., a Compassus medical director and staff physician at Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia.

Years later, when he was invited by the executive director of a hospice organization to work with its patients, Dr. Doroshow embraced the opportunity. “I decided to give it a try and got a lot of fulfillment out of it,” he says. “It’s a time when traditional medicine tends to abandon the patient and as a doctor, a lot of times you lose contact and control over the case.”

For the past 10 years, working with hospice has allowed Dr. Doroshow to help patients—some of whom have been his own patients prior to hospice—completely through to end of life. “From a professional standpoint, it’s fulfilling to follow patients all the way and help their families during a difficult time,” he says.

“It’s affected me personally to see the difference of how you can help someone’s end of life have more quality,” he says. “Instead of worrying about the number of days, they can focus on the quality.”

And that is what he wants people to know about hospice care — how it can make all the difference to both the patient and the family.

“We used to think that once someone is in hospice, they just die,” he says. “People still mistakenly think that sometimes, and that delays admission to hospice, which means they don’t get to take advantage of all the resources available to help the person.”

But a lack of understanding and late referrals — some patients are not referred to hospice until the last day or two of their life — means that patients and their families can’t take advantage of all the helpful services available, Dr. Doroshow says. “That is where the disconnect is, and where we need to fill in the gaps.”

The longtime physician is well situated to help that happen. He is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and serves as president and medical director at General Practice Associates in Philadelphia.

Dr. Doroshow is a member of numerous osteopathic organizations and is certified by the American Board of Osteopathic Family Practitioners and American Board of Osteopathic Specialists of the American Osteopathic Association in hospice and palliative care. He also sits on the Compassus Medical Director Advisory Council.

He and his wife Yvette have three grown sons, Scott, Jake and Matthew. The couple’s favorite pastime is ballroom dancing.