VA Sponsors New Program for End-of-Life Care

Apr 20, 2001, 01:00 ET from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    WASHINGTON, April 20 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- Dying is
 never easy -- not for an individual, not for a family, not for the medical
 staff who administer the care. But the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is
 taking new steps to ease the process for everyone.
     An initiative, called "VA Interprofessional Fellowship Program in
 Palliative Care," will develop health-care professionals with vision,
 knowledge and compassion to lead end-of-life care into the 21st century.
 Although aimed at improving care for veterans, the program will affect how
 this care -- known as "palliative care" in medical circles -- is provided
 throughout the country.
     "As VA serves an increasingly higher percentage of older and chronically
 ill veterans, the need for end-of-life care similarly increases," said Dr.
 Stephanie H. Pincus, VA chief officer for Academic Affiliations, a program
 that educates more than 90,000 physicians, medical students, and associated
 health professionals each year. "This interdisciplinary fellowship will jump-
 start palliative care as an important field in health care. It will change the
 way physicians, social workers, nurses and other caregivers approach patients
 at an extremely difficult time in their lives."
     Historically, VA has taken a leadership role in the promotion and
 development of hospice care and, more recently, in a national pain management
 initiative. In 1998, VA's Office of Academic Affiliations addressed the need
 for clinicians trained in end-of-life care and was awarded a $985,000 grant by
 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support further education.
     On March 1, 2001, the palliative care fellowship program was announced and
 will involve up to six sites, with four one-year fellowships provided at each
 site.
     "The training changes the focus of health-care providers who are treating
 the terminally ill," said Pincus. "In the past, doctors saw death as a
 failure, so they consequently focused on medical cures and preventing death at
 any cost. We are training medical care staff now to concentrate on symptom
 management rather than disease management."
     Pincus further explained that the new fellowship program has a large
 educational component. Trained clinicians are expected to serve as leaders
 promoting development and research. Selected training sites will be required
 to develop and implement an "Education Dissemination Project" to spread
 information beyond the training site through conferences, curricula for
 training programs, patient education materials and clinical demonstration
 projects.
     And, of course, as resident doctors go out into the community, they take
 their training with them. More than 130 VA facilities have affiliations with
 107 medical schools and 1,200 other schools across the country. More than half
 the physicians practicing in the United States have received part of their
 professional education in the VA health care system.
     "This is an important step for health-care providers. But what does this
 mean to the chronically ill veteran?" said Pincus. "It means that he will be
 more comfortable. It means he might not have to die in ICU but instead be able
 to remain in the secure surroundings of his home. It means he will be treated
 by a caring, trained partnership of doctors, nurses, chaplains and social
 workers. It means his family will be included in decision-making and care
 giving.
     "There comes a time when all the modern medicine in the world can't cure
 the illness. That's when treating the pain, communicating with compassion and
 providing support and counseling become paramount. And that's what these
 fellowships are all about," said Pincus.
     For more information about the program check VA's Web page at
 http://www.va.gov/oaa/fellowships .
 
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    WASHINGTON, April 20 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- Dying is
 never easy -- not for an individual, not for a family, not for the medical
 staff who administer the care. But the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is
 taking new steps to ease the process for everyone.
     An initiative, called "VA Interprofessional Fellowship Program in
 Palliative Care," will develop health-care professionals with vision,
 knowledge and compassion to lead end-of-life care into the 21st century.
 Although aimed at improving care for veterans, the program will affect how
 this care -- known as "palliative care" in medical circles -- is provided
 throughout the country.
     "As VA serves an increasingly higher percentage of older and chronically
 ill veterans, the need for end-of-life care similarly increases," said Dr.
 Stephanie H. Pincus, VA chief officer for Academic Affiliations, a program
 that educates more than 90,000 physicians, medical students, and associated
 health professionals each year. "This interdisciplinary fellowship will jump-
 start palliative care as an important field in health care. It will change the
 way physicians, social workers, nurses and other caregivers approach patients
 at an extremely difficult time in their lives."
     Historically, VA has taken a leadership role in the promotion and
 development of hospice care and, more recently, in a national pain management
 initiative. In 1998, VA's Office of Academic Affiliations addressed the need
 for clinicians trained in end-of-life care and was awarded a $985,000 grant by
 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support further education.
     On March 1, 2001, the palliative care fellowship program was announced and
 will involve up to six sites, with four one-year fellowships provided at each
 site.
     "The training changes the focus of health-care providers who are treating
 the terminally ill," said Pincus. "In the past, doctors saw death as a
 failure, so they consequently focused on medical cures and preventing death at
 any cost. We are training medical care staff now to concentrate on symptom
 management rather than disease management."
     Pincus further explained that the new fellowship program has a large
 educational component. Trained clinicians are expected to serve as leaders
 promoting development and research. Selected training sites will be required
 to develop and implement an "Education Dissemination Project" to spread
 information beyond the training site through conferences, curricula for
 training programs, patient education materials and clinical demonstration
 projects.
     And, of course, as resident doctors go out into the community, they take
 their training with them. More than 130 VA facilities have affiliations with
 107 medical schools and 1,200 other schools across the country. More than half
 the physicians practicing in the United States have received part of their
 professional education in the VA health care system.
     "This is an important step for health-care providers. But what does this
 mean to the chronically ill veteran?" said Pincus. "It means that he will be
 more comfortable. It means he might not have to die in ICU but instead be able
 to remain in the secure surroundings of his home. It means he will be treated
 by a caring, trained partnership of doctors, nurses, chaplains and social
 workers. It means his family will be included in decision-making and care
 giving.
     "There comes a time when all the modern medicine in the world can't cure
 the illness. That's when treating the pain, communicating with compassion and
 providing support and counseling become paramount. And that's what these
 fellowships are all about," said Pincus.
     For more information about the program check VA's Web page at
 http://www.va.gov/oaa/fellowships .
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X73581454
 
 SOURCE  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs