An older man receives a new diagnosis of advanced cancer and needs to talk through his fears and make sure he understands his illness. A family works to accept the impending death of a loved one. A mother of three children struggles with the pain of her disease.
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland's (SJMO) Supportive Care Program provides help in all of these cases and more. Organized as a team of health care professionals that include doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, spiritual counselors, social workers, psychologists, a music practitioner, a healing touch practitioner, dietitians and physical therapists, the program brings comfort, relief and understanding to those with distressing symptoms and/or those with life-limiting diseases.
Supportive care services
Our services have greatly expanded over the past few years. In 2004, SJMO was one of only 10 programs across the United States to be named a Circle of Life Award Honoree by the American Hospital Association for its outstanding program that provides care to patients who are nearing the end of life or who have life-threatening conditions. Our services include:
- Pain and symptom management for patients in the hospital. Our services seek to prevent, relieve, reduce or soothe the symptoms, problems and concerns of patients and their families who have serious or painful conditions. For patients who are at the end of life or find out that they have a serious illness, we work to support their understanding of their illness and assist them to find healing and peace for the mind, body and spirit during this very difficult time. We also work to assist them and their families find resources in the community to improve their quality of life and support them throughout the course of their illness.
- No One Dies Alone Program. This program is designed to assist patients, who have no family or few family members. A No One Dies Alone (NODA) volunteer will visit or sit with them near their time of death. Our mission is that no one would have to be alone at death, and that they would die with dignity and in comfort.
- Love blankets/hand casts/comfort carts. SJMO has several volunteer quilting and sewing groups that donate quilts and blankets to be given to our dying patients as a remembrance. We also make hand casts; molded from clay handprints and set in cement these are given as a remembrance of the dying loved ones. Our comfort carts are portable carts that are equipped with a music player and soft listening CDs, bibles, rosaries, bereavement information, community resource booklets and are placed in dying patients rooms and creates sacred peaceful spaces around our patients and their families.
- Supportive Care outpatient case management service and 24 hours a day phone line. This program assists in developing support systems for the patients and their families. This is done through assessment and management of problems and concerns of patients who have serious illness but who are not in hospice care. By coordinating therapies, equipment and other resources to help the patient improve the quality of their life. We also offer bereavement services and support to families after a loss and consult with professional staff for education and development of pain management and palliative care in other settings. The phone line allows care and assistance to be given 24 hours a day.
- Healing touch and music practitioners also serve our patients. By integrating nontraditional therapies with traditional medicine we find unique ways to provide peace and healing.
- Grief/bereavement conference. A bi-yearly seminar given to help grieving families and health care providers improve their ability to support others through the grieving process.
Our mission is to relieve suffering of mind, body and spirit while maintaining dignity and maximizing the quality of life for all those within our care. For more information on our program, please call Peg Nelson, Director and Nurse Practitioner for Pain and Palliative Services at 248-858-6818 or email@example.com