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Palliative Care at Winthrop – Providing Comfort, Care to Patients and Their Families

Last spring, John Hofmann suffered an intracranial bleed – a serious brain injury that required the urgent attention of doctors and specialists from a variety of disciplines.

When Mr. Hofmann’s family placed his care into the hands of a skilled team of physicians, nurses, and technicians at Winthrop- University Hospital, they had full confidence that everything would be done to ensure his needs were met.

“My family and I are grateful to the entire staff at Winthrop-University Hospital for the excellent, professional and compassionate care that provided such comfort to my father-in-law and us during a very difficult time,” said Mr. Hofmann’s daughter-in-law, Mary Hofmann, MD, FACP, who is the Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Abington Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania.

When it comes to caring for seriously ill patients, Winthrop is extraordinarily aware that every patient has unique needs. In an extension of this highly personalized and caring approach to healthcare, Winthrop recently established a Palliative Care Program for seriously ill patients, their families and the physicians who are treating them.

“The fact that I am a physician…had no influence on the excellent care my father-in-law received, as this seems to be the way every patient is treated at your institution.”

Mary Hofmann, MD Abington, PA
Palliative care is the active, comprehensive care of patients that enhances quality of life by addressing the physical, psychological, social and spiritual concerns of seriously ill patients and their families. Care is focused on the management of symptoms and stress of disease at any stage in a serious illness, including end of life.

“Palliative care programs have rapidly proliferated in hospitals throughout the United States for a good reason. These programs assist patients, families and clinicians through some of the most medically challenging and emotionally trying times of one’s hospitalization,” said Jeffrey T. Berger, MD, FACP, Chief of the Section of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at Winthrop. Dr. Berger spearheaded the creation of the program and is Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Palliative care services at Winthrop include:

  • Medical management to reduce pain and other symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath;
  • Psychological and spiritual support;
  • Assistance with developing plans of care to optimize quality of life;
  • Assistance with advance care planning to ensure patients’ preferences will guide treatment – even if patients can no longer make decisions for themselves;
  • Assistance with deciding on life-sustaining and life-extending measures; evaluating benefits and burdens of different treatment options; planning in case a crisis event occurs; and preparing for end of life.
“This interdisciplinary service offers support for patients and their families,” said Dr. Berger.

The program is staffed by a team of specially trained physicians credentialed in palliative care and nurse practitioners with specialized expertise, who may call on other disciplines, such as social workers, chaplains, dietitians and pharmacists, depending on the patient’s needs. The team works with the patient and their family to identify the goals of care and coordinates a care plan and interventions that reflect their values and wishes.

For the Hofmanns, the palliative approach to care was the best approach – not only bringing comfort to their loved one, but also to the entire family.

“Hospital staff, in all disciplines, worked hard to ensure my father-inlaw’s dignity and comfort at the end of his life. Our family always felt that all was being done to ensure his wishes were met, and he died in peace with his family,” said Dr. Hofmann.

To learn more about Palliative Care services at Winthrop, please call 1-866-WINTHROP.
Vol. 19, No. 3
Fall 2009

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