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April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 10, 2015 GULFPORT, Miss. — Approximately 90 million Americans are living with serious and life-threatening illnesses, according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care (www.capc.org). April 16 has been designated National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day to educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. Palliative care can be offered to patients of any age, at any stage of serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. Palliative care is appropriate for anyone suffering with a serious, chronic, or life-threatening illness such as cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, and others. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that patients receiving early palliative care experienced less depression, improved quality of life and longer survival. Palliative care is not hospice care, which is a common misperception. Hospice care is designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and focus on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure. Memorial Palliative Care provides guidance and support at a time when patients and their families need it most. The goals of palliative care include: • Providing relief from pain and other distressing symptoms • Integrating the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care • Helping patients live as actively as possible • Offering support to families during a patient’s illness • Using a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families • Enhancing quality of life, which may also positively influence the course of illness • Assisting patients and families to set goals for care, realistically examining current prognosis in an honest and supportive manner Dr. Lainie Jorns, is a board certified and fellowship trained physician specializing in palliative care. As per the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)

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