Black, brown, and the challenge of dying well


Arkansas Hospice

A live stream is held discussing the adversities minorities face regarding health care, particularly hospice.

On October 5, Dr. Lewis Shephard Jr. hosted the second interactive presentation titled “Black, Brown, and the Challenge of Dying Well” to discuss the adversities minorities face in the current healthcare system when facing death. The live stream is brought to you by Arkansas Hospice through a grant from the Rebsamen Fund. The purpose of this seminar is to inform minorities how to properly utilize hospice care for better pain management, comfort, and family support when reaching the end of life.


Dr. Shepherd Jr., is the special assistant of the Ouachita Baptist University president to advance racial diversity. He is also a leader in education, community engagements, and the pastor of Greater Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. Along with him on the presentation were two panelists, Rev. F.L. Smith and Vinita Marie Giles. Rev. F.L. Smith is a senior pastor, author, and lecturer. He was a former hospice chaplain who has pastored several previous churches. Vinita Marie Giles is a registered nurse, church deaconess and a hospice healthcare leader.


In the talk, Dr. Shepard talks about general information concerning end of life care. Also, he proposes a series of questions from him and from citizens who sent them in. He invited the panelists to share their first encounter with hospice care as a minority. Both shared personal stories on how they hospice came into their lives. Smith was filling a pastoral duty for his father when visiting a member of the church who had cancer. Giles went into how she had used hospice when she tragically lost her first born child.


“My child was transported to Arkansas Children’s hospital and there I met the doctor who told us she’s going to die,” said Vinita Giles, healthcare professional. “[It] gave us the opportunity to second the time with her that we needed with the information we had not knowing how this was all going to pan out.”


Dr. Shepard then asked, “ In your experience, how have minorities traditionally perceived hospice care?” They review the myths that some minorities may believe and the fear of being mistreated. The host and panelists then moved on to address access issues of hospice care to minorities and finding possible solutions for the care to be readily available. In a recent survey, over 50% of the participants did not know how hospice was paid for.


“You have Medicare Hospice Benefit and also Medicaid,” said Giles.


“ There are some insurance companies who provide long term care as well,” said Rev. F.L. Smith, former hospice chaplain.


To tie the event up, they discussed various ways or solutions on how to get more information and resources out to harder to reach communities. Also, how to navigate receiving that care in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.


“People in general are kinda scared for people to come into their homes,” said Giles. “We need to make sure that they know that we are going to protect them as much as possible by following those guidelines that are set before us.”


“One of the practices that we’ve been using with the team that i work with, it may just be the nurses coming in or the aid”, said Smith. “ So myself, the chaplain, or the social worker have been communicating that we’re still gonna be here for you if you’re not comfortable with us being a part of this particular team… as long as you’re receiving the care you need.”


For more information or watch the previous two live streams please visit or contact David Edwards at [email protected] Everyone wanting to know more about hospice care, healthcare professionals, and media personnels are encouraged to join the next live stream. Participants can submit questions before the next panel discussion through email to [email protected]