To the editor:
The Dec. 13 story by Dave Ranney, "Death may be inevitable, but pain is not," described the unfortunate circumstance patients in hospitals and nursing homes nationally experience at the end of life. It is important to recognize the need to improve the way we care for people as they die. It is equally important to take action. Locally, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is acting to improve end-of-life care.
LMH is dedicated to caring for people in our community during all phases of life. In order to meet the unique needs of seriously and terminally ill patients at LMH, an interdisciplinary group of professionals called the "Palliative Care Consult Team" was created in 2003. The goal of palliative care is to provide relief of suffering and improve quality of life for patients and their families.
Our team is available to provide pain and symptom management as well as emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families. Team members include physicians, registered nurses, social workers and a chaplain. When a patient is dying in the hospital, their personal physician has the option of requesting assistance from the Palliative Care Consult Team. We served 140 patients and their families in 2004.
We understand that every person may desire to die at home, but often that is not possible due to various circumstances. At LMH, quality end-of-life care is available and we do it with PRIDE. Dedication to providing quality of life and relief of suffering -- physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially -- is of paramount importance.
Terrie Sikes and Dorothy Kurtz,
Palliative Care Consult Team,
Lawrence Memorial Hospital