Infinity Hospice Care’s Medical Director, Dr. Aurelio Muyot, visited the construction site of the new Infinity Hospice Care Inpatient Campus today to check on the progress.
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Volunteers and staff members from Infinity Hospice Care came together to celebrate Infinity Hospice Care’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. This annual event is held in Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona to recognize our hospice volunteers in coordination with National Volunteer Appreciation Week.
Becoming a volunteer for hospice is an opportunity that most people pass by, however, one young man in particular took the call to action and became a volunteer with Infinity Hospice Care two (2) years ago. Under normal circumstances this might not be “news worthy”, however, Albert is a high school student.
“In the past two (2) years Albert has volunteered over 300 hours of his time to our organization. He has had the opportunity for several experiences; from friendly visiting with patients, phone call follow-ups, and a presentation to his fellow high school students about the value of volunteering. Our team of professionals has witnessed growth in Albert’s maturity, responsibility and work ethic. Albert will be entering college this fall. We believe his hospice volunteer experience has enriched not only the lives of the patients he served but his own as well,” says Bonnie Marcet, Community Coordinator for Infinity Hospice Care Phoenix, Arizona.
Becoming a volunteer for hospice is an opportunity to help serve OUR community by giving back to persons whom are experiencing a life-limiting illness. The story of Anna, one volunteer who has taken this opportunity to new heights, was told at the luncheon.
“Ana came to Infinity Hospice Care to become a volunteer almost two (2) years ago and has volunteered nearly 200 hours in that time. Ana has had the opportunity to touch the lives of many patients that we serve with friendly visiting, however, not only has she impacted their lives by her volunteer work, she has also changed her own life. Anna saw how hospice works and the support it brings to our patients’ lives and their families, she took this as a calling for her own life and recently became a Certified Nursing Assistant. Ana hopes to work in hospice someday soon so she can give back more,” says Dee Dee Williams, Volunteer Coordinator for Infinity Hospice Care in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hospice volunteers bring light and love into people’s lives. Infinity Hospice Care volunteers are a valued member of the team. As a volunteer you help support the mission of providing dignified and compassionate care to persons and their families who are experiencing a life-limiting illness.
National Volunteer Appreciation week was April 10th-16th this year. We are grateful to all the volunteers who help support Infinity Hospice Care and our mission.
For more information on becoming a volunteer please contact: Arizona: Bonnie Marcet at 602-381-0375 or Nevada: Dee Dee Williams at 702-880-7002.
As a follow up to yesterday’s discussion about the last 6 months of life in those with heart failure, the Archives of Internal Medicine also published a study looking at the use of hospice in men dying of prostate cancer between 1992 and 2005.
The good news is that just over half (54%) were enrolled in hospice. The bad news, the average length of stay prior to death was just 24 days while one in four enrolled within seven days of passing. So yes, the message is getting out to offer palliative care but it’s not getting through early enough.
As physicians, we are trained to save lives. So we continue to offer medications, therapies, and surgeries, even when faced with certain death, because to do otherwise would be to admit defeat. It’s time that patients, families & physicians realize and admit that death cannot be defeated.
Despite what you may read or hear about immortality moving within our grasp, that is not the case. So to encourage thinking otherwise is disingenuous for everyone involved. Instead, even as we first attempt a cure, we should also be just as focused on offering palliative care to counter all the symptoms and side effects of said therapy.
And we should initiate a discussion as to when to focus less on cure and more on caring, with the possibility of transitioning to a hospice facility when the staff there can do the most good in preparing the patient and family for one of life’s certainty. As noted two weeks ago, there are studies that demonstrate higher quality of life and prolonged survival in those patients who elect hospice care over narrowed focused continued attempts at cure.
Resource: Dr. Alvin Lin alvinblin.blogspot.com
Heart disease remains the number one killer of both men & women in the US. However, not everyone dies a quick & sudden death from a massive heart attack or dysrhythmic collapse. Instead, due to the modern miracles of medicine, many suffer for an inordinate number of years with damaged hearts leading to heart failure while one in four die within the first year after the diagnosis is first made and one in three die within a year of hospitalization for heart failure. In fact, heart failure accounts (at least partially) for one in eight deaths.
Given the grim statistics above, it’s imperative that we start talking to our patients about their goals and their desires for (specific) treatment soon after, if not immediately upon, diagnosis so that even as we work to mitigate the complications of heart failure, we can also palliate the symptoms in a fashion consistent with the patient and family’s desire.
Towards that end, two studies were published last month looking at the cost of care during the last six months of life in the US and in Canada over the past decade or so. Given our general love of the care offered by our neighbor to the north to all her citizens, it’s surprising to me that there were more similarities than differences. Surely, the way medicine is practiced has changed during this same period of time, something documented in both studies. But importantly, only one in three in the US died in the hospital with hospice use increasing over this period of time, coincident with a surge in the number of hospitals with palliative care programs.
We’re not there yet. We’re still not optimally caring for our dying, once it’s clear that death is imminent in the next 6 months or so. But we’re slowly getting better.
Resource: Dr. Alvin Lin alvinblin.blogspot.com
I try to focus this blog on health rather than disease by writing about all that we can do to optimize our wellness. But death is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. We can’t escape its grasp, yet too often, we ignore it and won’t discuss it, even when it’s near. It’s as if by mentioning it by name, we’re committing someone to a sure death. But I have a surprise for you: even if we don’t talk about death, we will still die, sooner or later.
Sure, physicians and lay people alike aren’t very good at using their crystal balls to predict the exact time of death. But with certain diseases and conditions, we’ve developed enough experience to narrow our guess down to weeks-to-months or sometimes days-to-weeks or so on. You get the idea.
Cancer is one of those illnesses where we can often make a credible guess. Yes, we’ve made tremendous strides over the last few decades against this dreaded diagnosis. In fact, some forms that were once as good as a signed death sentence are now manageable. With others, we even dare breathe that other “C” word, cure. But still too often, cancers either present too late, having already spread to different parts of the body, or become resistant to all the surgeries, chemotherapies, and radiation that we can throw at it.
These patients, the ones with metastases, are the ones for whom we should discuss hospice and palliative care earlier rather than later. Realistically, we should offer palliative care even at the beginning of any treatment to help all patients and their loved ones cope with side effects and adverse reactions. But later on, once it’s clear to us, the physician, that things aren’t going so well, rather than consider death the equivalent of defeat, we really need to take the initiative and start discussing hospice & palliative care, even as we consider another “Hail Mary” pass to rally the troops. In truth, we never win. Death always trumps life.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology just released a new statement that care needs to be individualized for patients with advanced cancer. That’s code for actively involving the patient in his/her care, specifically asking for their individual goals and care preferences. For many, it’s not death that is feared, but rather the final days right before. Patients don’t want to suffer (however, one defines that physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually) or to be left alone in the hospital’s cold sterile environment. Most want to be at home surrounded by loved ones after having checked a few more items off the bucket list. This is where hospice and palliative care medicine step in, to offer comfort and compassion, when no cure is possible/realistic, to both the patient and the family.
Incredible as it may sound, in the case of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last August, those patients randomized to early palliative care had less aggressive care at the end of life (as expected by definition), yet reported better mood, better quality of life, and surprisingly, longer survival, living on average almost 3 months longer (11.6 months compared to 8.9 months) compared to those who received standard oncologic therapy alone.
So it’s about time that we acknowledge that 800 pound gorilla. To get the conversation started, a nice piece was written online yesterday in the USA Today. Let’s start talking about hospice and palliative care options.
Disclaimer: I serve as a Medical Director for Infinity Hospice Care‘s Las Vegas program
Resource: Dr. Alvin Lin alvinblin.blogspot.com
Being a caregiver is a very important role in the health-care team! To be a good caregiver, you need to care for yourself too!
Talk with friends and family about your feelings and stay in touch, avoid feeling isolated.
Be accepting of your new role and try to stay positive. Being a caregiver can be a positive give to you and those you care for.
Try to manage stress by:
Ask for help from others and try to rely on your natural support; family, friends, neighbors, church groups and volunteers.
Caregivers are special and it is important to care for your self as you care for a loved one.