by Jill Ragar Esfeld
OVERLAND PARK — When Tiffany James saw the one-hour documentary film called “Except for Six,” the executive director of health care services knew its message had to be spread.
So James, who works for Catholic Community Hospice and Healthcare, a division of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, purchased a copy of the film and approached the local public television station about premiering it in the Kansas City area.
The documentary aired in January to rave reviews. It will have repeated showings on Feb. 21 and 22. (See side-bar for schedule).
“I think it does an excellent job of really explaining what the entire hospice team does,” said James.
Produced by Hospice of Michigan, the film follows three individuals and their families as they embark on one of the most important journeys of life — the final days.
The audience is welcomed into the homes of Ron Christie, Rosie Thompson and Naomi “Lee” Redeck as they face that journey with dignity. The documentary focuses on hospice care and the quality of life that can be maintained by the people who choose it.
“There are several doctors featured and they talk a lot about how people think hospice is ‘giving up,’” said James. “And they talk about why it’s not giving up. And all the things you gain by having hospice on your side.”
Indeed, the individuals featured in the film do not give in to the inevitable end of life, but rather, with the help of hospice, take control of their end-of-life experience.
Their stories are told with poignancy and humor.
“You’re going to see a funeral; you’re going to see people really sick,” explained James. “But the main man that they follow, Ron, is just hysterical. He’s very capable till the very end to do things for himself, and he’s very comical.
“I’m not going to say you won’t shed a tear, because you probably will — but I think you’re going to laugh, too.”
The film engages the audience and encourages them to reflect on difficult end-of-life decisions.
“I think it does a good job of explaining the need for advance directives and end-of-life decisions and those sorts of things,” James said.
Catholic Community Hospice of Northeast Kansas is briefly featured in a spot before the film, explaining that all the revenue the nonprofit program generates flows back into Catholic Charities and allows the organization to assist those in need.
James said she hopes the film will educate people about hospice and how it helps individuals take control of the end-of-life experience. She also hopes it will encourage viewers to discuss end-of-life issues with loved ones now.
“The hope is that it plants a seed in people’s minds,” she said. “And when that time does come in their own family, we’d love it if they reached out to us.”
If not, she continued, “at least reach out to some hospice program to let them help through that process.”