Dr. Guy Fiscus served as the first medical director of the home-based Western Maryland Hospice Program beginning in 1996 and became a champion of end-of-life care.
When Nurse Manager Linda Green of the inpatient hospice program at Memorial Hospital learned about the hospice benefit available through Medicare, requiring that 80% of services provided to patients be in-home, she and Virginia Walls, assistant director of nursing at the time, set out to create a manual for the development of an in-home hospice program, which ultimately led to the hiring of its first medical director.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fiscus responded to the call put out to the medical staff, to show his interest in pursuing the opportunity. From experience, he knew that many of his own patients ended up in the in-patient hospice program. Yet until he signed on as hospice director, he had never witnessed the passing of a patient.
Dr. Fiscus became board certified in hospice and palliative care and was soon known around the state for his engaging presence and 100% commitment to the program. Under his leadership, Linda recalls that period as the most important time of her professional career.
“I feel so blessed to have known Dr. Fiscus,” says Linda. “He staffed an amazing interdisciplinary team, and he wasn’t afraid to step up and make himself available, whatever the need.”
“He was so real with his patients and had such a curiosity about how people lived their lives,” she said. She remembers him as humble and down-to-earth, laser focused on his patients. Without ceremony, he made house calls, showing up unexpectedly with his bag and spending countless hours at kitchen tables with patients and their loved ones, treating them and answering questions.
“We were very lucky to have that level of care from the medical staff,” says Linda.
He discovered that many patients were suffering because they could not afford their medications. Once the stipulations of the Medicare hospice benefit were met, patient medications were covered and available through the program.
Linda also remembers how proud Dr. Fiscus was of his family. He talked freely about his three boys at staff meetings and once even brought a red-headed granddaughter to a board meeting.
“I consider him a great man,” says Linda. He never sought recognition for himself, yet he made a world of difference to the home hospice program.