Rolling Out

Henry Mason exposes the truth about the care for Black people in hospice

A Morehouse alum, Henry Mason wanted to create a center that gave patients the best care possible

Henry Mason saw an opportunity to create a hospice center after he saw what his mother experienced while she was going through chemotherapy treatment. That birthed Precious Hospice, a center in Fayetteville that prides itself on giving its patients the best end-of-life care while offering emotional, spiritual, and social support.

Mason spoke with rolling out about the hospice experience and what people should have prepared when their loved ones are going through the process.

Where did the inspiration come from to create a hospice center?

My mom used to work in hospice in 2014, and that was when she came down on her second battle with cancer. She took a little break from that position, and she had to go through our radiation and chemotherapy treatments. While she was going through those treatments, they just never came and checked on her. They never really gave an effort. It just really didn’t show anything that they cared about the employees, it just didn’t sit right with me. At the time, I was doing government contracting in DC, and I was coming down and visiting her for her treatments. We’re sitting one day and I said, “What is it that you do? What is this hospice thing?” I’m a finance major from Morehouse, and I’m pretty good with numbers, but I never heard of this program. She walked me through the program. I said I think we can do this.

While she was going through chemo treatments, she sat there in pain and agony, and she wrote out the procedures and the policies. She said, “This is what I want you to do differently. I want you to take care of our people with some dignity and respect.” I told her to explain to me what does that mean? She said companies have a setup where certain people get hospice for a certain amount of time, and African Americans get it for short times. So, people who are African Americans get it for an average of two to three weeks, and those who are not African American get it for upwards of two years. I said, “Well, why is that?” This is something no one talked about. She said, “The way hospice works is for everyone you bring on, it’s a 180-day average, so if you bring somebody on Jan. 1, that person essentially has to expire by the last day of June.”

What should the process look like when someone is entering hospice?

Make sure that you get everything you’re supposed to get. We supplement supplies and give you all of the supplies, but we’re supposed to help you financially with those supplies. Make sure that companies take care of your medications and [ensure] you have adequate equipment such as hospital beds, oxygen machines, bedside tables, and things that can help you [daily]. Make sure someone’s coming into your home to help you take a bath at least three times a week.

That’s the other part of it because if you go to some African American homes, for people who might be on Medicaid, they might need somebody five times a week. If the government’s only going to pay you so much, you’re going to go to an area where they don’t need somebody five times a week, they need someone once or twice a week. So, [make] sure that you’re getting everything you need to help you sustain and live life because, in [my] opinion, being in hospice gives you more time and more dedicated people to look after you.

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