Quality of Life: Inside MPTF’S Palliative Care Program

Getting a diagnosis for a serious, life-threatening illness is extraordinarily difficult to bear, and that’s where our Palliative Care Program comes in. As opposed to hospice care, which comes at the end of life, palliative care can come into play at the early stages of an illness, with a wide range of professionals offering care, comfort, and support to patients and their families throughout the process. Everything from enhancing quality of life to managing pain and stress can come into play, helping patients face the risks and burdens of their illness and treatment choices.

The national palliative care approach is still relatively new in the medical community; it was adopted at MPTF in 2004 (with our first patient admitted in 2005). Palliative Care became a U.S. board certified sub-specialty of internal medicine in 2006. Since then MPTF has remained at the forefront of America’s palliative care initiative with a team of board-certified physicians, advanced practice nurses, social workers, chaplains, dieticians, and activity coordinators working with the patient’s doctors, therapists and nurses to provide the best care possible.

MPTF’s Palliative Care program served 250 Industry members and their families in 2016 with approximately 140 people onservice right now. 70% of our patients live in the community, and the rest live on campus. Most of our current referrals are coming within the first three months of diagnosis, which means we’ve been able to establish with physicians and other providers that there’s intrinsic value in palliative care. Legislation currently being drafted in Washington, D.C. acknowledges the importance of palliative care for those with serious illness and is supported by members of both parties.

Our Palliative Care Program has been involved for several years with CAPC (the Center to Advance Palliative Care), a national resource for palliative care providers, developers, and innovators. Diane E. Meier, MD, Director of the CAPC, applauded MPTF for its “delightful program with excellent commitment of clinical staff; well-known and loved in California” and noted, “I am personally a great admirer of your organization’s work over all the years, and I am honored by your interest in and response to our call for proposals.”

MPTF’s program is also part of CAPC’s new, ongoing national registry compiling community-based data to compare programs across the nation to generate reports and create consistency between different regions across the country.  MPTF has also signed its name to many letters alongside organizations like the American Cancer Society sent to Congressional representatives and committee members of Health and Human Services to advance the field of palliative care on the national level.

Part of the HASC (Hospital Association of Southern California) Palliative Care Community, our Palliative Care Program is listed as a Southern California resource for HASC members. The program has been the recipient of several awards over the years and presented at many conferences about the benefits of palliative care. Since its inaugural year of operation, the program was honored with the 2006 “Best Practices Award” from the California Hospital Association’s committee, Hospital Services for Continuing Care. In 2007, the program received a “Quality First” award for “Leading Edge Care & Services” and “Research & Education” from the Aging Services of California, while a “Quality Palliative Care Leadership” commendation followed in 2009 from The National Consensus Project.

One new frontier being explored now by MPTF and the nation as a whole is “tele-palliative care” for those who can’t make it to our offices with providers in Woodland Hills and Toluca Lake. For example, an industry member who can’t make it through a stress-packed freeway drive could be able to get quality supplemental care over the phone, be it anything from social services to chaplaincy.  Anyone grappling with a life-changing illness deserves palliative care, and it’s good to know that it’s out there for those who need it. For more information about our Palliative Care Program, call 818-876-1739.

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