About MVH Palliative Care
Palliative care is a relatively new concept for hospitals. The Palliative Care program at Miami Valley Hospital (MVH), one of the first hospital-based programs in the nation, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. The program at MVH is graciously funded entirely by Miami Valley Hospital Foundation.
The MVH Palliative Care Program serves the chronically ill and terminally sick, addressing the needs of over 800 patients annually. With many palliative patients, the goal is not recovery, but symptom management, maximizing the quality of life and comfort. MVH Palliative Care works closely with the MVH Pain Center. Currently, MVH Palliative Care is an inpatient program. There are, however, also outpatient education efforts.
The MVH Palliative Care Team includes an Advanced Practice Nurse as Program Manager, physicians who specialize in the treatment of the terminally ill, nurses with specialty Palliative Care leadership training, a Social Worker, a Chaplain, and a Psychologist. This interdisciplinary team meets monthly for process improvement and meets weekly to discuss the cases of individual patients. There are also four physician champions in the program. These physicians act as intermediaries between all parties and can be called upon anytime to assist with issues. MVH Palliative Care closely involves the needs of the patient’s family. There is a strong dedication in tending to spiritual needs and the psycho-social issues that a patient and family may have. If needed, life-closure issues are addressed. A patient’s family is often a key player in palliative care, and the MVH team also helps the family to feel in better command of the situation. The team coordinates family meetings with doctors and keeps track of the patient’s condition with current reports.
Unfortunately, a dying patient and their family have a lot of decisions to make: Does the patient want a living will? What affairs need to be put in order? What’s the best way to handle medical and funeral costs without burdening loved ones? The earlier a patient discusses these issues and makes his or her wishes known, the sooner the decision-making burden is taken off of family members. Documents such as Advance Directives assist with making the patient’s wishes known. A patient can also choose a family member to act as a health care agent to make decisions once the patient is no longer able. Once the Palliative Care team has answers to end-of-life support questions and has reviewed the patient’s and family’s wishes, physical symptoms are managed with dignity as the ultimate priority.
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