The Miami Valley Hospital (MVH) Palliative Care Program serves the chronically ill and terminally sick with comfort as the primary goal of care. Cases are commonly patients with cancer, CHF (Congestive Heart Failure), COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), trauma, and infection.
MVH's Palliative Care Program was one of the first hospital-based programs in the Dayton region. The Palliative Care team received Disease-Specific Certification from Joint Commission, a national deeming authority for the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare. This certification was one of the first of its kind in the nation!
The MVH Palliative Care program is for hospitalized patients, although we provide related education programs for both hospitalized and same-day patients. The program at MVH Cancer Center is funded entirely by MVH's Foundation.
A New Concept
Palliative care is a relatively new concept for hospitals. The program at MVH is over 10 years old and one of the oldest in the country. The first year, there were 22 patients. By 2006, the program addressed the needs of 654 Dayton patients. MVH Palliative Care Team has developed a tracking tool to keep the staff aware of the progress of palliative needs for patients. The tool was created in collaboration with the Palliative Care Team at Good Samaritan Hospital and has been very effective. It was modeled after the Mt. Carmel Palliative Care program, one of the six designated palliative care facilities in the nation from the programs to advance Palliative Care.
Some cancer patients have a life-limiting illness. Therefore, we believe that a person’s comfort is very important. The Palliative Care team may assess MVH oncology patients whose primary goal for care is to aggressively manage their comfort. Symptoms to be managed might not only be physical, but can also include emotional and spiritual needs. Effective symptom management leads to an improved quality of life, which is a high priority for our care giving staff at MVH Cancer Center.
The care process starts with informing the patient. The patient must thoroughly understand what's happening to them. MVH oncology patients get a realistic picture of their chances of recovery and an explanation of what happens if their condition deteriorates. This information is relayed by their physician and then their wishes are relayed to the Palliative Care Team. Wishes include: what treatment they expect, outcome of treatment, what resuscitation efforts are to be used if their condition worsens, etc.
Symptom management and maximizing the quality of life for the patient are the goals of their treatment at MVH Cancer Center. Commonly the MVH Cancer Center team is focused on relieving pain, maximizing breathing ability, and controlling nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
There is also a strong dedication in tending to spiritual needs and other psychological or social issues a MVH oncology patient and family may have. If needed, life-closure issues are addressed.
A patient's family is often a key component to Palliative Care, and the MVH Cancer Center team also helps the family to feel in command of care elements they have control over. The MVH Cancer Center team may coordinate family meetings with physicians and keep track of the patient's condition with current reports from the physician.
Unfortunately, a dying patient and their family have a lot of decisions to face:
- Does the patient have or want a living will?
- What affairs need to be put in order?
- What's the best way to handle medical and funeral costs that won't burden loved ones?
The earlier a patient's advanced directives are discussed with thoughtful consideration and planning, the sooner the family is aware of their wishes. A patient can also choose a family member to act as a health care agent and make decisions for them when they are no longer able.
The Palliative Care team is available to coordinate information for patients and their family members.