|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2008
Metropolitan Hospital Opens Pain Medicine and Palliative Care Center to Ease Discomfort of Advanced Disease, Bring Dignity to End of Life Patients
First Public Hospital in U.S. Awarded Fellowship Grant to Train Doctors in Palliative Care
Metropolitan Hospital Center today announced the opening of a Pain Management and Palliative Care Center that will provide comprehensive pain and symptom management, psychological and spiritual support, advanced care planning and home hospice care to patients facing chronic pain from incurable diseases or who are at the end of life. In addition, the Center has received a $200,000 grant from the Fan Fox and Leslie Samuels Foundation to establish a Fellowship program, and will become the first public hospital in the country to train doctors in the specialty of palliative medicine after their residency program.
With an expert team of three physicians, a research nurse, several social workers, chaplains, psychologists and hospital administrators, the Center will focus on improving the quality of life for individuals who suffer from long-term chronic pain and other distressing symptoms due to cancer, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, congestive heart failure, advanced dementia and other diseases. The new Center is designed to provide an environment of dignity and comfort, and will serve patients who are hospitalized as well as those treated on an outpatient basis.
“It is fitting that we can expand our expertise in providing compassionate care to create a new standard of services to address the needs of a population that is growing older, living longer and facing life with chronic pain and discomfort”, said Meryl Weinberg, Metropolitan Hospital Executive Director. “We also want to end the unacceptable human suffering too often experienced by end of life patients and give them an opportunity to opt out of the high-tech, invasive treatment of the ICU and instead have closure with family and friends with less trauma and greater comfort and dignity.”
The Metropolitan Hospital Pain Medicine and Palliative Care Center will operate an outpatient clinic and provide consultation service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Center is located on the 3 North Wing of Metropolitan Hospital Center, 1901 2nd Avenue entrance. Individuals seeking more information or appointments can call 212-423-7212.
Case Studies: Reaffirming Life, Accepting End of Life as a Normal Course of Action
Mercedes (not her real name) was a 79-year-old Hispanic woman admitted with advanced metastatic cancer with pulmonary involvement. Patient had no advanced directives, and her daughter had never thought about making decisions about her mother’s end-of-life care. A meeting with the patient, her daughter and members of the palliative care team resulted in a shared decision to treat the mother with appropriate medication for end-of-life care; and she died peacefully at home with her family.
Karen (not her real name) a patient with a history of cancer and multiple sclerosis, sees Dr. Shaiova on an outpatient basis. Her agonizing pain disrupted her life and she was succumbing to hopelessness and depression. “Before I met Dr. Shaiova, I could not cope with the pain,” Karen says. “I know I will not be cured of multiple sclerosis, but my pain is under control, and I am able to go out of the house and enjoy time with my family.”
“Palliative care is a different way of thinking for doctors and patients,” says Dr. Lauren Shaiova, board-certified in palliative medicine who heads the Pain Medicine and Palliative Care Department at Metropolitan Hospital. “Healthcare professionals are trained to save lives and they view death as a failure. But when the latest treatment or drug will not change the outcome or help the patient’s quality of life, it is time for the palliative care team to step in and offer guidance and appropriate medical intervention.”
“Care options that sustain quality of life, reduce suffering and guide both patients and their families through the crisis of a life-threatening disease, are the hallmark of our staff’s compassion and respect for the dignity of every patient,” said José R. Sánchez, Sr. Vice President of the Generations+/Northern Manhattan Health Network, the largest network of healthcare facilities of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, which includes Lincoln, Harlem and Metropolitan Hospitals.
The new Pain Management and Palliative Care Center at Metropolitan is part of a larger $3 million initiative by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation to develop palliative care programs for nine hospitals in the system as well as expanding the original programs at Bellevue and Coney Island Hospitals. The 11 palliative care teams at HHC consist of doctors with various specialties related to comprehensive palliative care, nurses, psychologists, social workers and chaplains.
Metropolitan Hospital Center is a full-service, acute care hospital that emphasizes primary care medicine and utilizes the latest advances in medical science. Affiliated with New York Medical College, Metropolitan has emerged as a state-of-the-art health care institution that is effectively meeting the diverse health care needs of the residents of East Harlem and surrounding communities.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is a $5.4 billion public benefit corporation that serves 1.3 million New Yorkers every year and nearly 400,000 who are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based health centers. For more information about Metropolitan Hospital or about the HHC system, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.