Palliative medical care limited as providers are deployed amid pandemic

Palliative medical care is now limited as providers are deployed to other areas due to the coronavirus pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Apr 10, 2020, 1:36 AM

Updated 1,500 days ago

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Palliative medical care is now limited as providers are deployed to other areas due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
Palliative care is a special type of medical care for people who have a serious illness.
"It's just heartbreaking to see families separated at the emergency room,” said Dr. Sarah Norris from the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. 
As hospitals have new and strict visitor policies to keep everyone safe, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore is now helping all patients and their families feel supported and connected through palliative care. 
"A lot of people confuse palliative care. They often think that palliative care is about death and dying and they confuse it with hospice. It really isn't,” said Dr. Norris. 
While there are similarities of providing comfort to the patient and their families, hospice focuses on end-of-life care and not curing because the patient is given less than six months to live and they’ve stopped treatment.
Palliative care starts at the time of diagnoses and curative treatment is continued. Also, despite being a children’s hospital, patients of all ages are being seen to help with the statewide bed-capacity shortage. 
"I talked to a family last night. Their mother is using the help of a breathing machine and my question was, 'I can't know her like you know her. Tell me about her, tell me what makes her happy. When she wakes up, what should I put on the radio here? What should I say to her so that she feels safe?” said Dr. Norris.
There are four ways they help: 
  • Provide relief to physical symptoms with COVID-19, that’s shortness of breath.
  • Provide relief to emotional distress they’re under, which may be anxiety, depression, or fear. 
  • Speaking to important people in their lives they’re suddenly cut off from because of tight hospital visitor policies. 
"And finally, to think about spiritual and existential suffering, so 'Why is this happening to you? Why your family?” said Dr. Norris. 
The hospital expanded its service from an army of one, which is Dr. Norris, to now a team of 27. 
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They make daily phone calls to families to understand their patients more to make the care personal and individualized. 
"People are more than their disease especially right now during COVID-19. So many people are dying and we want them to be known and their family to be understood,” said Dr. Norris.


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