TACOMA, Wa. — Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. As the demand for this type of care grows, the need for health professionals trained in providing palliative care will be equally great.
This growing need is being addressed in Washington with a new Palliative Care Academy designed to provide specialized training to health care professionals from around the country. The Cambia Health Foundation has awarded a two year, $250,000 grant to Franciscan Hospice and Palliative Care for the creation of a training academy to educate physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in generalist palliative care principles. The Palliative Care Academy will provide education and support for practicing clinicians, enhancing their quality care of patients.
In the U.S. it is estimated that there is one cardiologist for every 71 people experiencing a heart attack but only one palliative care specialist for every 1,700 people living with a serious or life threatening illness. By the year 2020 there will be approximately 74 million people over the age of sixty-five living in the U.S. Eighty percent of those people will suffer from at least one chronic disease, resulting in pain, symptom burden and increased suffering. There will not be enough palliative care specialists to care for this growing population of patients. All clinicians will need to be trained in generalist palliative principles in order to provide ongoing quality care for patients in need of palliative support.
“We are pleased to partner with Franciscan in supporting efforts to educate today’s health care professionals to meet the palliative care needs of tomorrow’s patients,” said Peggy Maguire, president and board chair of the Cambia Health Foundation. “Cambia Health Foundation is committed to the promotion of compassionate, high-quality palliative care that enables patient choice and promotes person-focused end-of-life care.”
“Through this new academy, we have a unique opportunity to build the quality and accessibility of palliative care in our region, and beyond, by sharing the expertise and resources that Franciscan Hospice and Palliative Care has developed over many years of palliative care delivery,” says, Mimi Pattison, MD, Medical Director of Palliative Medicine, Franciscan Health System. “Educating more practitioners in palliative care will help us fulfill our goals to be the best place to heal and the best community resource.”