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Palliative Care Suite Opens at Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center

Dr. Lee Arcement, Palliative Care Director, Linda Steck, RN, Critical Care Supervisor, and Dr. Andrea Espinoza, Critical Care Director, at the ribbon-cutting for the Palliative Care Suite. (click photo to enlarge)

Houma Leonard J. Chabert Regional Medical Center (LJCMC) recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of its new Palliative Care Suite on the fourth floor Medicine Unit.

Furnished to resemble a secure home atmosphere, the Palliative Care Suite has a soothing design and comfort items, such as a sleeper sofa for the patient's family and music.

"The opening of the suite complements the efforts of the LJCMC Palliative Care Program, which has been serving patients since 2008," said Rhonda Green, LJCMC CEO. "The program offers a comfortable, quality-based standard of care for end-of-life patients, providing the best continuum of care for all aspects of our patients' needs."

The Palliative Care Suite is dedicated to Cayman, a young boy whose mother passed away. Cayman and his family inspired the staff at LJCMC to develop a special room for patients who are near the end-of-life. (click photo to enlarge)

The program also treats the pain, symptoms, and stress of serious but nonterminal illness, relieving suffering and improving quality of life. Unlike hospice care, palliative care can be provided at the same time as curative treatment. It is not dependent on prognosis.

The LJCMC Palliative Care Team uses a strong interdisciplinary model to address all aspects of patient care, with the emphasis on communication with the patient and family. A major component of the care team is to offer pastoral care as requested and to allow families to spend time, pray and benefit from a private, safe setting with professional support close at hand.

Required for the LJCMC Internal Medicine Residency curriculum, the Palliative Care Program is also important to the LJCMC educational mission. "This is a definite plus for our Internal Medicine Residency Program," said Dr. Lee Arcement, who co-leads the team. "It is yet another dimension to demonstrate to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education that we are innovative, forward thinking, and committed to incorporating the latest clinical practices for residency training."

Palliative care is associated with improvements in both healthcare quality and healthcare costs.

Linda Steck, RN Critical Care Supervisor and coleader of the team, laid the foundation for the program and utilized community resources for educational materials for the staff and patients' families.

The team meets regularly to review clinical data and to ensure quality. Inpatient unit supervisors embrace the program, educating staff and supporting families. They also follow up with personalized sympathy cards to grieving families, who often call back to express their gratitude to the LJCMC caregivers who helped them through the grieving process.