Clearfield Hospital Hospice Palliative Care Program Helps those with Chronic Illness

Members of Clearfield Hospital’s palliative care team who are pictured, in the front row, from left to right: Linda Weitoish, RN; Marie McGovern, medical secretary; Ruby Maines, RN, certified hospice palliative care nurse; Diane Dale, RN; and Joyce Wisor, RN, quality manager. In the back row are Dana Wilson, volunteer coordinator; Dr. Donald Conrad, medical director; George Solley, pastor; Judy Hixon, RN, hospice manager; and Kathy Bell, social worker. Missing from the photo are Lori Parks, bereavement coordinator; Gail Makin, RN; Becky Lee, RN; Linda Butterworth, patient care assistant; Janice Holt, patient care assistant; and Shari Metz, patient care assistant. (Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – Providing support and comfort for individuals living with chronic illness is the goal of the palliative care program offered by Clearfield Hospital Hospice.

“The palliative care team’s mission is to provide care to home care patients who are not eligible for or accepting of hospice, but still need a holistic approach to alleviate physical, psychosocial and spiritual concerns when facing a life limiting illness,” Karen Warfield, RN, home care director, stated.

Warfield explained that palliative care is appropriate for patients undergoing treatment for cancer, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease, heart failure, chronic kidney disease and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.

The goal of palliative care is to relieve the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of an illness, regardless of prognosis, and it can be delivered alongside curative treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.

The care provided is based on the patient’s wishes. The core members of the care team are the patient, family, nurse and physician. Other members of the team may include social workers, therapists, aides, pharmacists, clergy, bereavement specialist and volunteers. These professionals blend their strengths together to meet the medical, psychosocial, spiritual and overall needs of the patient and family.

Warfield said the palliative care staff works in collaboration with the patient’s primary physician. These physicians are contacted for orders and kept informed of the progress being made.

Registered nurses involved with the program have specialized training in pain and symptom management and ethical issues in palliative care nursing, among other topics. Several home health aides also received training for their roles in palliative care.

Clearfield Hospital Hospice is now accepting referrals to its palliative care program. Patients can be admitted to the program any time symptom control is an issue. Once symptoms are under control, the patient will be discharged to self-care and follow up with their physician.

As the illness progresses and symptom control becomes an issue again, patients may be readmitted to the service, Warfield said.

Palliative care is just one of a number of services provided by Clearfield Hospital Home Care. Other services are nursing; physical, occupational and speech therapies; aide and social worker services; specialized wound care; IV therapy; and hospice care.

In addition, the agency provides these specialty services: Healthy Beginnings Plus visits to new moms and babies, lymphedema therapy and ostomy care and education.

Each November, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice celebrates National Home Care Month, National Hospice Month and Home Care Aide Week to honor care giving heroes who make a difference in the lives of patients and the families they serve.

Clearfield Hospital is proud to celebrate the work of its home health and hospice agencies during the national observances.

“We are proud to have provided quality home health care for more than 40 years. Another special observance this month is our hospice team’s 25th anniversary. We started small, but it didn’t take long for us to grow. I’m sure the reason for our success is our reputation for providing excellent care,” stated Warfield.

For more information about palliative care or services provided by Clearfield Hospital Home Care, please contact any of these offices: Clearfield, 768-2000; Houtzdale/Nittany, 378-7689; or Mahaffey/DuBois, 277-6684.

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