Community Memorial Health System Palliative Care Department Celebrates 10 Years of Service
Palliative Care Helps Patients and their Families Cope with Serious Illness
CMHS began Palliative Care services in 2008 with the goal of improving patient and family participation in decisions regarding treatment options and goals of care. We are proud to share that our Palliative Care Department has since grown into a robust, interdisciplinary service that assisted over 800 patients in the hospital last year alone!
Palliative Care is a special healthcare service that aims to relieve suffering and improve a person’s quality of life while maintaining their dignity. It’s not the same as Hospice, which focuses on end-of-life care for those no longer seeking treatment for a terminal illness. And, unlike Hospice Care, Palliative Care can be provided at the same time as other curative treatments and may begin early in the course of a serious chronic illness.
Growth and Successes
Community Memorial Health System’s Palliative Care Department has experienced tremendous growth and achievements over the past decade. A key achievement is providing Palliative Care services not only at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, but on an outpatient basis as well. This medical service includes symptom management, goals of care discussions, completion of advance care documents, education about long-term options, and supportive needs assessments.
“We were the first outpatient Palliative Care Service in Ventura County and we’re very proud of this accomplishment,” said Diana Jaquez, Director of Palliative Care Services. “We’re in our fourth year of providing Palliative Care on an outpatient basis, which is important to helping patients earlier in their illness so they can enjoy the best quality of life possible.”
The CMHS Palliative Care Team uses an interdisciplinary team approach to address all aspects of life for a patient facing a serious or life-limiting illness. All team members work together to form a comprehensive assessment and plan that meets the expectations of the patient, family, and treating physicians. “Our entire team works together to create a care plan focusing on the whole person,” said Janine Coronado, Palliative Care Social Worker. “We’re looking at a holistic view of what is best for each patient.”
Who Are the Team Members?
The majority of our 11 team members are nationally board-certified in their respective fields to maintain quality outcomes.
- Physicians provide their expertise to develop the best treatment options reflecting the patient and family’s goals of care, along with symptom management and discussion of prognosis for survival and recovery.
- Social workers take a multidimensional approach when helping patients and families address the many issues related to palliative care and end of life including advance care planning, care coordination, cultural and economic concerns, family and caregiver support, symptom management, existential issues and bereavement.
- Nurses assess the overall health of the patient, including the impact of their current functioning on their quality of life.
- The Chaplain offers spiritual support and encourages emotional healing.
What Does Palliative Care Do?
Palliative Care provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms; supports patients and their families; helps clarify goals of care for patients with advanced illness; offers emotional, social, and spiritual supports; and provides enhanced communication between the patient, families, and their medical teams. Palliative Care can help relieve distressing symptoms like:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhea
- Fatigue or sleeplessness
- Anxiety or depression
- Agitation or restlessness
Expanding Our Reach to Insurers and Community Partners
Community Memorial Health System’s Palliative Care Department has also teamed up with major insurers in the areas to expand these services to their members. In addition, the CMHS Palliative Care team is sharing its knowledge with other care providers. “As our service continues to grow, we recognize the need to become involved beyond our community,” Jaquez said. “Our team members are involved in local, regional, and national projects and organizations. They are committed to teaching others, including nurses, medical residents, and social workers, so they can share their knowledge and help train the medical providers of the future.”
For more information, please call our Palliative Care Department at 805-667-7975.
A Final Word: The Palliative Care Department is deeply grateful for the ongoing support from many wonderful people including Dr. Marty Pops and the entire CMHS Board of Trustees, CMHS President & CEO Gary Wilde and his administrative team, and Dr. Lynn Kong and the Cancer Committee. The Palliative Care Team wishes to thank everyone for their continued support!