Fairbanks Memorial Hospital discusses National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Fairbanks Memorial hospital is celebrating National Hospice and Palliative Care Month by bringing more awareness to the topics and encouraging members of the community to plan for emergencies.
Palliative care is a specialized approach to the treatment of patients with a serious or life-threatening illness.

Sarah Patterson, FMH’s Business Support Coordinator for palliative medicine explains Advanced Care paperwork (Carly Sjordal, KTVF)

The goal of palliative care is to provide relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of serious illness, and improve the quality of life for both the patient and the patient's family.

Paula French, a Nurse Practitioner at FMH specializing in palliative care says it’s important to focus on caring for people as much as it is treating the disease.

"I think one of the main things is its just important for patients to know what their options are and what's out there. We're all individuals and so a diagnosis for one person may look very different than a diagnosis for another person -- and so... just that people know that they have support, that they're being heard and listened to, and that we're individualizing our care so we can really do the right thing for them,” said French.

Hospice care focuses on a person's last six months of life or less. When curative treatment is no longer an option, hospice professionals work to make the patient's life as comfortable as possible. Natalie Meyar, the Hospice Director at FMH says it shares similarities with palliative care in that it works best with a team. "It's a team oriented approach. We have a large number of people involved with caring for patients, and we all work together to make patients as comfortable as possible, manage their pain and manage any other symptoms they may have,” said Meyar.

To bring awareness, the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital is encouraging community members to start Advance Care Planning, which is making healthcare decisions in the event a person is unable to speak for themselves.

According to Sarah Patterson, FMH’s Business Support Coordinator for palliative medicine, "Everyone should fill these out. Any adult 18 and older is encouraged. We actually encourage everyone, even if you're extremely healthy. It's better to start the conversation early than to wait until a crisis"

FMH will be holding free workshops starting in 2020 to help people learn more about Advance care planning

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