Easing the Suffering of Serious Illnesses By Laura Freeman
For physicians who went into medicine to save lives and heal people, one of the greatest frustrations they face is when they run out of options for a patient’s cure. When everything that can be done has been done with medical and surgical interventions, it’s difficult to see your patients still suffering and their families struggling to cope. Fortunately, palliative care offers another pathway to help patients deal with life-threatening and life-altering conditions. “It’s about helping patients live a better quality of life when they are facing a serious illness,” Rodney Tucker, MD, director of UAB’s Center for Palliative and Supportive Care, said. “For 20 years our center has been building and refining a palliative care model that can help Rodney Tucker, MD ease suffering and reduce the stress for both patients and the people who love them.” Public perception sometimes confuses palliative care with hospice, but its purpose is helping patients live better
Hand in Paw therapy dog visits palliative patient.
while undergoing treatment for serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease, or dealing with painful chronic neuromuscular illnesses, HIV and other long term conditions that may go on for years. “Together, we work as a care team to aggressively manage distressing symptoms. That includes pain, anxiety, depression, as well as the stresses that can burden caregivers,” Tucker said. “Doctors, nurses, counselors, social workers,
physical and occupational therapists, and pastoral care providers come together to address the specific needs of each patient and the type of support that would be helpful to families. Caregivers also need care. Their role can be exhausting and can create both emotional and financial stress.” In a palliative care situation, the first step in helping is to understand the patient’s goals for care and to make sure
the family has been heard. It’s a time when important decisions are made, and the patient may need information and the perspective of experience to make the best decision for her circumstance. “Does the patient want to continue living in his home, and would house calls, a visiting nurse and other services like transportation and meal delivery be necessary to make that possible? Would moving to a retirement community or assisted living facility better fit the patient’s needs and how will they get their home ready for sale and manage the financial arrangements to make the transition? When is a nursing home necessary, and how do you know when it’s time to consider hospice care? Simply understanding the different levels of care can be difficult. It helps to have someone with experience who you can call on for answers,” Tucker said. Since its inception, the UAB Palliative and Supportive Care center has achieved remarkable results in improving and expanding its care model to help with issues ranging from helping patients with transportation to their appointments to using the arts to improve their quality of life. However, access to palliative care for Alabama as a whole is an issue that (CONTINUED ON PAGE 12)
Picture a world where underserved populations get the health care they need. At Wexford Health, we are always striving to achieve that world. As a leading provider of correctional care services, we understand the importance of proper medical and mental health treatment and how it can impact the health status of our patients. Making a difference in the lives of these patients is what our dedicated employees do every day. And you can do the same. We are now offering fulfilling opportunities for physicians and nurse practitioners across the State of Alabama. If you chose medicine because you want to help people change for the better, join our Wexford Health team today and grow with an industry leader where we are raising the standard of correctional medicine.
Khris Robinson, Physician Recruitment Consultant Phone: 205-605-7444 ext. 213 Email: email@example.com jobs.wexfordhealth.com
Raising the Standard of Correctional Health Care. Birmingham Medical News
FEBRUARY 2020 • 11
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