June 2009

Scanlon Provides Congressional Briefing on Palliative Care

06-08-09Scanlon_IN Photo

Colleen Scanlon, RN, JD

Colleen Scanlon, RN, JD, SVP of advocacy for CHI, presented at a Congressional briefing on June 15 on the topic of palliative care. The briefing took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Scanlon spoke in her role as chair of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) and on behalf of the Supportive Care Coalition: Pursuing Excellence in Palliative Care.

Palliative care is care of the seriously ill and dying. Before turning her career to advocacy, Scanlon was a palliative care nurse. "I care passionately about this issue," she said. "I know first hand the privilege of caring for the seriously ill and dying and their families. My message in the briefing was that compassionate and effective palliative care programs must be part of health care reform."

Scanlon told the gathering that quality palliative care must include optimal pain and symptom management and a focus on the psychological, social and spiritual distress that can accompany life-threatening illness. "Quality palliative care has been shown to reduce readmissions, hospital costs and emergency department visits," she said. "It's is a model that increases patient satisfaction while managing costs."

Scanlon said the briefing was well attended, with many participants staying after the briefing to ask questions. The briefing was hosted by CHA, the American Cancer Society Action Network and U.S. Representatives Steve Israel (D-NY) and Lois Capps (D-CA).

"If we want real, quality, comprehensive health reform in the U.S., that reform needs to address health needs at all stages of life, from conception to natural death," Scanlon said. "That includes the best, most compassionate treatment for individuals with complex diseases and those in the final stages of life." For more information, visit the health care reform pages of the CHA Web site