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Novel Palliative Care Initiative for Chronically Ill Patients

(Republished from May 28th Edition of The Jewish Voice, Page 9). Mt Sinai School of Medicine and Plaza Jewish Community Chapel Join in Breakthrough Venture
Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine announced a partnership with Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, Inc, to provide palliative care counseling to two groups of patients who rarely receive it—those with kidney failure and those with moderate to severe memory loss.
The goal of the initiative is to provide patients and families of patients living with dementia and end stage renal disease the expert counseling they need to understand the complex medical, ethical, family support, and spiritual issues that arise in the wake of a chronic illness. The program will provide patients and their families with information on: the likely course of disease; options for treatment and quality of life impact; the physical, emotional, ethical, and financial challenges ahead; and assistance in connecting the family with home, pastoral, and community care resources such as visiting nurses or, when appropriate, hospice care. The program will be carefully evaluated to assess its impact on quality of life for patients and families and to consider broadening eligibility to a more diverse patient population.
With support from Plaza, Mount Sinai will institute the program at The Coffey Geriatrics Associates at the Martha Stewart Center for Living at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
“Palliative care is medical care focused on relief of pain and other symptoms; support for excellent communication between patients, family members and clinicians, and attention to continuity and coordination across care settings. Americans living with chronic diseases such as kidney disorders or memory loss need such care just as much as persons living with cancer, yet they are often unaware of the option,” said Diane Meier,MD, Professor, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “The program will be the first to provide counsel not just from a physician who is expert in the underlying disease, but also from a palliative care physician, a social worker, and a chaplain.
Dr. Mejer added. “We are enormously gratified by the support and recognition from our partner in the New York City community, Plaza Jewish Community Chapel,” said Dr.Mejer. “Plaza’s recognition that seriously ill people and their families need assistance in making informed decisions grows from their direct experience with meeting the needs of the community. We are honored to join them in the effort to provide such services.”
“The two groups of patients supported by this initiative have special physical and emotional challenges that require comprehensive counseling and support,” said Alfred Engelberg, Chair of Plaza Jewish Community Chapel. “Earlier palliative care counseling will identify needs and vulnerabilities for both patients and families. Additionally, these patients are still functioning at a level that will allow them to take advantage of the counseling services offered by this project.
“For many families, a funeral is simply the last step in a lengthy process that begins years earlier with a diagnosis of a serious or life-threatening illness. Families need intellectual, emotional and spiritual support in making informed decisions at every stage of that process. Plaza Jewish Community Chapel was founded by a group of Rabbis and philanthropic leaders in the Jewish community with the belief that there was a need for a not-for-profit institution dedicated to supporting the needs of families and communities at a time of great loss. Providing support for this innovative counseling program at Mount Sinai is an important milestone for Plaza in fulfilling its mission,” said Engelberg.
About The Mount Sinai Medical Center The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of few medical schools embedded in a hospital in the United States. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 depart ments and 15 institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institute of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The school received the 2009 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2009, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital among the nation’s top 20 hospitals based on reputation, patient safety, and other patient-care factors. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 530,000 outpatient visits took place.

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