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M. D. Anderson’s Palliative Care Program Receives National Award

M. D. Anderson’s Palliative Care Program Receives National Award
M. D. Anderson News Release 07/26/04

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center’s palliative care program is one of only three in the country selected to receive the Circle of Life Award, recognizing outstanding services that improve the care of patients near the end of life or with life-threatening conditions.

Also honored with the national Circle of Life Awards in addition to M. D. Anderson are Hope Hospice and Palliative Care in Fort Myers, Fla., and St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children in Bayside, N.Y.

The fifth annual award is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and sponsored by the American Hospital Association, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, American Medical Association, and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
The awards will be presented today (July 26) at the American Hospital Association Health Forum Leadership Summit in San Diego.

“This award reflects the value that M. D. Anderson places on improving the quality of life for our patients. It is a wonderful recognition for our specially trained nurses, physicians and many other members of our multidisciplinary team who work together to provide comprehensive symptom management and palliative care for patients and family members who require these important services,” Kay Swint, administrative director for the Palliative Care Center says.

A national selection committee evaluated innovative programs that respect patient goals and preferences, provide comprehensive care, acknowledge and address the family or caregivers’ concerns and needs, and build systems and mechanisms of support to continue the program for future patients and caregivers.

Eduardo Bruera, M.D., chair of the Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, leads M. D. Anderson’s program. He is at the forefront of a strong research effort focused on finding new methods for assessing and managing pain and other symptoms in patients with advanced cancer.

The palliative care program features three teams that care for patients both inside and outside of
M. D. Anderson:

  • Inpatient Mobile Team — When a M. D. Anderson physician requests a consultation, a palliative care physician, accompanied by a medical fellow or advanced practice nurse, come to a patient’s hospital room to assess the patient and make recommendations. Using symptom assessment tools, this team provides a complete evaluation with recommendations to the primary care team. M. D. Anderson’s palliative care fellows are part of a physician fellowship training program that recently became one of the first in the country to receive accreditation specifically in hospice and palliative medicine.
  • Outpatient Care Center — The Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine Center offers consultation, evaluation and treatment for patients. A team of specialists provides symptom relief and supportive care for patients at all stages of their disease, including those suffering from loss of physical function. Patients are often seen in the center, while they continue treatment by their primary team.
  • Inpatient Symptom Management and Palliative Care Unit — This 12-bed unit is devoted to the care of advanced cancer patients experiencing extreme symptom distress. The palliative care team provides attending services during this time. However, the primary care team, through ongoing consultation, remains connected to the patient.

Nurses who have chosen palliative nursing as a specialty, and are skilled in symptom assessment and management, bedside emotional support and patient advocacy, provide the nursing care on this unit.

Palliative care physicians lead the core interdisciplinary team that includes nurses, a social worker, chaplain, psychiatric nurse specialist, advanced practice nurses, pharmacist and case manager. The patient and family are assessed upon admission using symptom assessment tools and a comprehensive treatment plan is developed and coordinated with the patient and family.

Family meetings are held to discuss the clinical picture, symptom management plan and possibilities for discharge, as well as the family’s ability to provide care that is needed at home. Psychological support is provided throughout the stay. Patients are then transitioned back to the appropriate level of care, such as primary service outpatient, palliative outpatient, home health or hospice care at home.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center