February 2003

End-of-Life Care Educational Program Presents New Ideas

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Teams of caregivers from more than 30 market-based organizations took new ideas and inspirations away from Catholic Health Initiatives’ first educational program on end-of-life care, held January 17—19 in Tucson, Ariz.

The program earned high marks from the more than 120 attendees, scoring an overall rating of 4.9 on a scale of 5. "It was the right time to address this topic," said Harold Ray, MD, chief medical officer for Catholic Health Initiatives. "We had excellent speakers from inside and outside the organization. And, it was helpful that the attendees came in teams – one person can’t easily go back to a market-based organization and effect change, but a team can. We also gave the teams time to work on end-of-life care action plans while they were still at the program." Karen Reese, RN, vice president of patient care services for Saint Francis Medical Center, Grand Island, Neb., attended with Saint Francis’ parish nurse coordinator, director of social work, director of medical/surgical care and director of hospice services. "We were all impressed with the quality of the speakers and the breakout sessions," she said. "We’re in the early stages of coordinating a community coalition for end-of-life care, and everything we learned at the program will be helpful to us." Terry O’Rourke, MD, a surgeon at Penrose/St. Francis Medical Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and chair of the Centura Health Board of Directors, enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on palliative care and other end-of-life issues. "The program offered a lot of pearls of information, such as ideas about using certain medications to treat pain," he said. "We’re planning to try a number of them." Ray is considering holding a follow-up meeting and another end-of-life care educational program some time in the future. "We would like to expand the agenda with additional information for chaplains and social workers as well as clinicians," he said. "Catholic Health Initiatives is also working to become an accreditation body, and we may be able to offer continuing education units for nurses, chaplains and social workers as well as physicians at future programs." For more information about the end-of-life care educational program, contact Carol Osepowicz at carolosepowicz@chi-national.org or Rosemarie Wehrly at rosemariewehrly@CatholicHealth.net.

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Jerry Broccolo, vice president of spirituality for Catholic Health Initiatives, addresses Catholic Health Initiatives’ first End-of-Life Care Educational Program.