People think that doctors who make house calls went the way of the horse-drawn carriage. But hospice patients and their families open their doors to dedicated hospice physicians for whom house calls are just another day at the office.

Dr. Bruce Schlecter (photo courtesy of Bruce Schlecter)

Dr. Bruce Schlecter (photo courtesy of Bruce Schlecter)

“We bring our care to patients; they don’t come to us,” says Bruce Schlecter, MD, senior medical director for VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of San Gabriel Cities. Dr. Schlecter oversees the hospice physicians who, along with nurses, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers, make up the interdisciplinary hospice teams that serve San Gabriel residents.

What hospice doctors get in return is time. Dr. Schlecter, a veteran of home visits, says house calls serve the physician as well as the patient and family. “Doctors are encouraged to spend more time with patients,” he says. “They get to know our patients and their families. They can answer questions, calm fears. Hospice is very rewarding to a physician.” 

Hospice professionals can be available to their patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If there is a medical crisis, patients shouldn’t have to choose between the comforts of home and the round-the-clock care of hospitalization. Ask the hospice you are considering how its staff provides after-hours and emergency care and comfort.

In a time of heroic medical effort and high-tech procedures, hospice patients choose something more old-fashioned: comfort, dignity, home. There is calm, not crisis. There are laughter, tears and time to make memories.

“House calls may seem old fashioned,” says Dr. Schlecter, “but they are smart medicine.”

(Provided by VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, which offers hospice care to patients and families in Los Angeles, Ventura County, the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Cities and Coastal Cities. Go to


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