PeaceHealth Ketchikan Offers Palliative Care Program
The caregivers at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center are putting their mission of caring into action through the newly formed patient-centered Palliative Care program.
Richard Sayer, RN has been charged with facilitating the program and assembling a multidisciplinary team of caregivers to address the needs of chronically ill patients and their families.
"Palliative care is the total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatments," said Sayer. "Out focus is to control pain and the limiting symptoms of psychological, social, and spiritual problems to achieve the best possible quality of life for patients and families. This has long been a priority of our founders/sponsors, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace."
In the Palliative Care program patients will participate in whatever level of treatment they and their families deem most appropriate. Working with a multidisciplinary core team representing medicine, nursing, social work, ethics, spirituality and an "Advanced Registered Nurse Practioner" with extensive experience in pain management, the focus will be on the aggressive control of pain and other life limiting symptoms as well as ensuring patients and their families are fully educated about treatment options and the implications of any decisions to accept or decline treatment.
"We will strive to help patients navigate the complicated and often confusing medial system," said Sayer, "we will also help them access any and all community and state resources which would benefit them. We have a certified Palliative Care physician available for consultation and more resources from other disciplines within the Medial Center if needed."
Palliative care is different from hospice care. Palliative care teams work in the hospital and can provide guidance during any phases of illness and can commence long before the final, terminal phase of an illness. As well it is not constrained by the limits placed upon Hospice Care, by Medicare. Hospice is a program of services that allows a dying person to remain at6 home or in a home-like setting for the last week and months of life.
Although palliative care and hospice are different, Sayer said there is a mutual goal "to help patients live their lives as they see fit, at the highest possible level of functioning; to help them be in charge of their lives."
The Palliative Care Program began March 12 for patients in the Medical Center. An outpatient/Home Health Palliative Care Program will start this summer followed by an outpatient Palliative Care Clinic at the end of this year or early in 2012.