Care Beyond Cure
"Palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve quality of life for patients with advanced illness, and their families. Palliative care is provided by an interdisciplinary team and offered in conjunction with all other appropriate forms of medical treatment." --Center to Advance Palliative Care.
Saint Francis Memorial Hospital has developed a Palliative Care Program to address the needs of patients suffering from chronic or terminal illness when control of Of symptoms interfere with the achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families. The Palliative Care team strives to address symptom management problems including pain and other stressful physical symptoms as well as any psychological, social, or spiritual needs.
The interdisciplinary team consists of a medical director, a nurse practitioner, staff nurses, physicians, chaplains, social workers and case managers. From diagnosis to discharge or end of life, this interdisciplinary team works together with patients and their loved ones to help them understand the prognoses and options. Through advanced care planning, the patient and family are assisted in determining which interventions and medical care they desire, including completion of Advance Directives. In addition, the patient and family are educated about the disease process and options for care after hospitalization.
In collaboration with the attending physician, the Palliative Care team develops a trusting relationship with the patient and family, and is dedicated to providing information throughout the course of treatment and dying process.
Although each situation is unique and life decisions are never easy, we encourage you to consider some very important questions now, before you are faced with what may be a very difficult decision.
- What will happen if you find yourself, or a loved one, with a chronic or terminal disease that fills every day living with pain and suffering?
- What are your options for treatment or life support?
- If your heart or breathing stops, do you want to be resuscitated? (i.e., have efforts made to restart your heart or breathe for you artificially?)
- If a loved one should be in this situation, what would he/she choose?
- Does the attending physician know your wishes?
- What can you do in advance to assure that your wishes are carried out in the event that you are not able to make your own decision?
Documenting Your Choices in Advance
Patients are usually able to make informed, deliberate choices about their own treatment. These choices can be expressed in advance, before you are unable to express your wishes due to progression of an illness or other unanticipated problems. There are three advance directive documents available to convey those choices:
Advance Health Care Directive: States your desires and appoints an individual to make decisions concerning health care when you are no longer able to make them for yourself. This document is legally binding, both on the person appointed as Attorney in Fact and upon your physician.
Natural Death Act Declaration: Allows you to provide general guidelines regarding the extent of your health care. It can be used in the event you become incapable of making decisions. This document, part of the California Natural Death Act, directs physicians not to continue treatment. It is legally binding on your physician.
Living Will: This document allows you to provide general guidelines regarding the extent of your health care; it will be used if you become incapable of making decisions. It is regarded as an expression of your choices; however, it is not a legally binding document in the state of California. Contact your chaplain, case manager, discharge planner or social worker to find out where you may acquire this form.
Ethical Questions and Concerns
Conflicts that may arise regarding decision-making surrounding health care and treatment may be referred to the Bioethics or Ethics Committee. Please notify your physician, nurse, case manager, or patient relations representative to initiate the process.
For more information about Saint Francis Memorial's Palliative Care Program, please call 415-353-6856 or 415-353-6180. The Palliative Care office is located in room 403 in Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Hospice and Bereavement Resources
San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Healing Center: (415) 750-4197
Catholic Charities/ Grief Care: (415) 564-7882
Coming Home Hospice: (415) 861-1110
Family Caregiver Alliance: (415) 434-3388
Hospice By the Bay: (415) 626-5900
Jewish Family & Children's Services: (415) 449-1200
Laguna Honda Hospice: (415) 759-3375
Latina Breast Cancer Agency Support Services: (415) 584-3444
Pastoral Care Department Institute for Health and Healing: (415) 600-3939
Pathways Hospice: (415) 567-3973
HAND-Support after Neonatal Death: (415) 282-7330
Self Help for the Elderly (Asian): (415) 982-9171
Visiting Nurses and Hospice of San Francisco: (415) 600-0400
Zen Hospice Project: (415) 863-2910