Submitted by Cynthia Wagner, MSN, CRNP, ACHPN, CHPCA, System Director, Palliative Care
One of the main goals of the MLH Strategic Plan (2012-2016) is to provide a standardized model for the delivery of palliative and hospice services for acute care hospitalized patients.
The provision of Palliative Care services is best delivered through an Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Team that consists of a Provider (Physician or Nurse Practitioner), an RN Coordinator, a Social Worker, and a Chaplain. Other disciplines are involved on an as needed basis, such as therapists and pharmacists. Additionally, volunteers can be an important part of the Palliative Care team. Soon, patients at all MLH hospitals will have full access to Palliative Care services.
Palliative Care Consult should be considered when assistance is needed with:
• Pain and symptom management
• Psychosocial and spiritual support
• Advance care planning
• Coordination of care
• Introduction of Hospice
Hospice is a portion of Palliative Care services that is for patients with a life expectancy measured in days, weeks, or months. In addition to developing Palliative Care teams at each MLH hospital, a full-time Hospice Nurse will be in place as well. This nurse will work closely with the hospital’s Palliative Care teams to transition appropriate patients to Hospice services, whether in the hospital, at a nursing home or at the patient’s home.
Many patients and their families have difficulty making decisions when confronted with complex medical problems. Often, their expectations and hopes are beyond what medical science can deliver, and at times their desires seem to conflict with their treatment plans. Inpatient palliative care consultation services can help patients navigate this complexity, arrive at a care plan consistent with their personal values, and be good stewards of precious medical resources.