More than 100 healthcare professionals from local hospitals gathered April 12 at St. Charles Hospitals inaugural palliative care conference, “The Power of Palliative Care: Beyond the Diagnosis,” at Willow Creek Golf and Country Club in Mt. Sinai, N.Y.
The conference featured a keynote address by Christopher P. Comfort, MD, a palliative care expert and the medical director of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, a facility dedicated exclusively to palliative care. Comfort shared anecdotes from his more than 30 years of experience in caring for individuals faced with prolonged physical pain, serious chronic illness and imminent death. He paralleled the death of an individual with the death of that individuals family as it once existed and urged the audience to recognize the scope and endurance of the grieving experience, especially the aspect of spiritual pain.
He also challenged attendees to recognize how they participate in the bereavement process and to take a more deliberate role in the “resurrection” of a patients family after the death of a loved one. Other guest speakers included Oscar Alvarez, PhD, CCT, FAPWCA, director, Center for Curative and Palliative Wound Care, Calvary Hospital; and Pedro H. Calves, MD, FACP, FCCP, regional medical director, palliative care service, Catholic Health Services. Alvarez spoke about palliative wound care, while Calves addressed the evaluation of care.
Additional presentations were given by Sister Edith Menegus, OSU, director, pastoral care, St. Charles Hospital; Theresa McKenna, RN, PhD, CDE, psychologist, St. Charles Hospital; and Lee Morris, CAT, MT-BC, music therapist, St. Charles Hospital. Menegus focused on the topic of spiritual pain. McKenna discussed caregiver fatigue and nurturing the patient, and Morris addressed the role of music therapy in palliative care.
The conference marked the first of what will be an annual event, according to a St. Charles news release. •