Palliative Care in a Pandemic

Publisher: The California State University
Author: Jennifer Moore Ballentine

“In this time, palliative care is just as critically needed as fluids, fever reducers, and respirators…(Palliative care workers)’ role in the time of COVID-19 is to keep the ‘care’ in healthcare.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has put unimaginable stress on healthcare systems and healthcare professionals; it has also put under immediate danger a specific population: the elderly, frail and those with underlying illnesses. In the face of this crisis, the normal concerns of palliative care––the quality of life, pain management and support for caregivers––do not look as important.

In this article, Moore argues the exact opposite: that palliative care has never been more important. The population that is most at-risk due to the novel coronavirus is the core patient population of palliative medicine, and they are the people that benefit most from any additional care that palliative specialists can provide.

“Managing pain and symptoms, ensuring comfort in dying, and supporting families and providers are what palliative care does every day.”

At a time like this, modifying treatment plans is something that palliative medicine can do, especially in the case of acute infections like COVID. Additionally, considering the strain on the healthcare system, palliative care can be used to ensure that hospitals have an alternative path to treatment for older patients, who are considered to be a lesser priority.

Spiritual care, team support and guidance on self-care are palliative care’s special sauce.”

More importantly, palliative care can help ensure that all information conveyed to and from the family is clear, crisp and delivered in a way which aptly considers the emotional circumstances of the situation.

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