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A Support System at the End of Life

When Caralinia Daniels’ mother needed hospitalization following a hip fracture in June, Caralinia knew her mother’s fragile state would make recovery unlikely. Her mother, Verna Patterson, 89, had already been to the hospital the previous month and her health had been rapidly declining. “No matter how many options the doctors tried, her body was too weak to respond to treatment,” says Caralinia.

During Verna’s last few days, her family received the benefits of Saint Francis Medical Center’s Palliative Care Program, which provides supportive care to patients and families facing chronic or life-limiting illness. The Palliative Care team was a tremendous source of support for Verna’s family.

“The main thing we discussed was that we wanted to make sure my mother had no pain,” says Caralinia. “They had spoken with us the last time my mother was at Saint Francis, and were there when my mother came in. They helped us communicate with the doctors about what could be done to make my mother comfortable.”

The Palliative Care Program is also available for families when the patient first receives the life-limiting diagnosis. The program helps patients and their families understand what their options are in the health care system. Topics of discussion include treatment options, plans and goals, and providers attempt to address all symptoms.

On the day Verna died, her grandson – who was very close to his grandmother – was sitting at her bedside. Members of the Palliative Care team were also in the room to provide support and comfort to the family in the moments before and after Verna’s passing.

Caralinia says she feels comforted with the knowledge that her mother died peacefully. “She did not suffer,” she says. “She was at rest and did not feel any pain. I am so glad the Palliative Care team was able to do that for her.”

For more information, call 573-331-5465.

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