Specialists from California come to rural Iowa for Palliative Care Conference

Released: 04/20/16

Experts from Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, CA, Daniel Hoefer, MD, and Suzi Johnson, MPH, RN (center) discuss palliative care with Winneshiek Medical Center’s leadership team and board members.

Families face many hard decisions as a loved one nears the end of life. Those decisions include what kind of care is wanted and/or needed, where to receive that care and who will make the health care decisions when a loved one can no longer do this on their own. This may be a difficult and stressful time for families. Palliative care gives patients and families another health care option that focuses not only on the patient but also on the caregivers.

Palliative care is a special kind of care that coordinates the efforts of health care providers to focus on quality of life for anyone being treated for a life-limiting illness, by addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. Unlike hospice, which is appropriate for patients no longer seeking a cure for their illness, patients who benefit from palliative care can still be in active treatment for their disease.

Winneshiek Medical Center Hospice was able to provide education to local and regional medical providers on the importance of palliative care and advanced care planning. This opportunity was made possible through a donation to hospice from the Daniel Huebner estate. “It was Dan and his wife Bonnie’s mission in life to see people in the community benefit from innovative care and treatment that optimizes quality of life” says Nancy Haberichter, director of WMC Home Health and Hospice.

Experts from Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, CA, Daniel Hoefer, MD, and Suzi Johnson, MPH, RN, spoke to over 100 medical providers, nurses and other health care providers on April 14 and 15 at Hotel Winneshiek and WMC in Decorah. Dr. Hoefer and Johnson covered topics related to quality of life, palliative care, medical prognostication and advanced care planning.

“We are very fortunate to have received a generous gift from Dan to help support us in taking our first step toward building a sustainable palliative care program,” says Nancy. “We (WMC) are looking forward to beginning the planning process to bring a palliative care program to our community and to continue to serve the unique needs of our patients.”

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