team
The Palliative Care blog team members, from left, are: Marianne Wachalovsky, N.P.; Chaplain Gretchen Shilts; Valerie Froman, LCSW; Dr. Terry Van Aken; and Patty Kramer, director of Social Services/Palliative Care.

The Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Though close in their missions, there are distinctions which can get lost in linking them together. Both hospice and palliative care provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and families, but there are two major differences.

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Considering Hospice

Hospice - a service for patients and their loved ones at the end of life. This is a definition with which most of us are familiar. Hospice focuses on quality rather than length of life. This means that you can no longer be helped by curative treatments, and you are expected to live about six months or less if the illness runs its usual course. How close to the end of life does our loved one need to be before they can receive hospice services?

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The Burdon of Decision Making on Families

Entering the hospital in a crisis situation is like stepping onto a medical treadmill. Decisions need to be made in rapid succession without having time to understand, or weigh the pros and cons. Not only are we faced with the stress of possibly losing a loved one during a hospitalization, but also in navigating what options for treatments there are, or what our loved one would have wanted.

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Advance Care Planning

    Many of us have witnessed a friend or loved one struggle as they lose their independence or the ability to control their own lives. Relying on someone else can often be difficult and stressful for all involved. One way we can ensure that we remain in charge of our future is through advance care planning. This involves discussing and planning for what type of medical treatment we would want if a sudden illness occurs. It is especially crucial today to have these discussions as our medical technology has advanced to a point where machines and technology can keep us alive, but at what cost to our quality of life? It may seem daunting to bring up the subject to a friend or family member, but the opportunity may present itself as you are talking about the death of a friend, family member or someone in the news.  Sharing an article on the subject can also be a way of starting a conversation, or at a medical appointment or financial planning session to discuss your wishes. Some questions to consider when discussing advance care planning are:

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When Religious Beliefs are at Odds with a Natural Death

A religious belief held by patients who are nearing the end of life and their families can sometimes be at odds with the plan of care that allows a peaceful and natural death. This belief is likely to be expressed in words such as "God will make the final decision," or "Death will come when God says so," and can be found in faith-filled persons of various religious traditions. What is to be done when healthcare providers are faced with such strong religious convictions having to do with God's will?

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The Catholic Position on Health Care

Questions often arise regarding Catholic teaching pertaining to healthcare by patients who are Catholic as well as those who care for them when in our hospitals.

There are different interpretations about what the Catholic Church teaches. In an effort to make known the Church's stance, the following quote from the document of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2009, titled, "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services." Part Three, Directive #32 is offered for your thoughtful review.

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What is Comfort Care?

Many of us in the healthcare field know that comfort care is often offered to a dying person, but there is still much confusion as to what comfort care entails.

The greatest misconception is that once a person no longer seeks curative treatment, there is nothing more to do. It is actually the opposite and requires that care be thoughtfully focused on the comfort of patient and family

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Spiritual Care

Treating the whole person includes spiritual care. What is meant by "spiritual" or "spirituality"? It does not mean religious, though it may include belief systems and worship practices.

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Futility in Medicine

Modern medical technology is a wonderful thing and has made it possible to support human life much longer than would have been possible even a few years ago, but futility in medicine is an ancient concept.

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The Importance of Code Status

Code status is an important piece of information on a medical chart and can mean the difference between life and death for a patient. With terminology like DNR, DNI and Limited Code, it can be confusing as to what these terms actually mean.

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