On Tuesday evening, April 3, a number of Fairfield University’s programs came together to discuss an important, albeit complex, subject. The Kanarek Center for Palliative Care, Center for Applied Ethics and the Egan School of Nursing all joined together to discuss hospice and palliative care in an open and educational fashion.

According to director of Kanarek Center for Palliative Care, Eileen O’Shea, DNP, APRN, PCNS-BC, this event has been in the works for the better part of a year. In a space spanning two classrooms of the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies building, the KCPC panel was assembled to discuss these medical topics. Members of the panel included: Lisa Caramico, M.D., John Beauvais, Ph.D., Karen Mulvihill DNP, APRN, FNP, ACHPN and Rick Newman, J.D.

The event, entitled Transparency & Ethics in Palliative Care, opened with O’Shea, as she delivered some background on what palliative care is, as well as stating the KCPC mission statement.

According to the World Health Organization, palliative care is defined as, “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment”.

O’Shea then went on to establish the goals set forth for the event, which include, defining palliative care & hospice, holding a dialogue on said subjects and to develop a deeper understanding of perspectives on these issues.

As the event continued, Dr. David P. Schmidt, Ph.D., the director of applied ethics at Fairfield University, took the time to introduce the panelists as well as their occupations. The individual panelists then addressed the audience by stating one reason why palliative care applies to them as an individual.

Lisa Caramico, M.D., described her connection to palliative care, “it has become my passion to educate people and physicians on what’s available regarding end of life care.”

After the introductions had concluded, Dr. Schmidt led the panel into the discussion of two case studies pertaining to end of life care. Each study was read by Dr. Schmidt before being handed over to the panel for an in depth discussion.

The panelists bounced ideas off of each other, each one addressing the room with their own thoughts based off of their personal experiences. Issues such as informed consent, communication between patients & physicians and autonomy were discussed in depth.

Panelist Richard Newman, J.D., commented on the issue of communication in palliative care, “these issues arise from lack of communication, and they are resolved, to the extent that they may be resolved, by communication.”

The panel then agreed that palliative care should be focused first and foremost on the individual. They highlighted the importance of questions such as, “how do you think your quality of life has been up to this point?” and “what matters most to you?”

Junior David Bogdan was impressed by the discussion, “The event opened my eyes to palliative and end of life care, such a topic seems to be vital and should be discussed more frequently.”

After the panel had concluded their discussion on the case studies, the room was opened up to questions from the audience. Students and staff members took turns addressing the panel members with questions pertaining to palliative & hospice care, as well as the ethical and moral dilemmas that go along with these topics.

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