Helping Loved Ones Die Peacefully and Gracefully
Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with Dr. Marianne Holler, Chief Medical Officer of Hospice, Palliative Medicine and the Advanced Care Institute at VNA Health Group, to discuss why she believes we need to reclaim "dying peacefully and comfortably."
"We are pleased to welcome Doctor Marianne Holler, Chief Medical Officer of Hospice, Palliative Medicine, and the Advanced Care Institute at VNA Health Group. Good to see you doctor. Thank you. Nice to see you. Thanks. That's a loaded title. Clarify that for us. Break it down. Well advanced care, and people with advanced illness, experience a spectrum of touch points with the healthcare system. So a lot of times their first contact is, obviously, with their primary care physician, and a specialist, they end up in the hospital, and as illness has its natural trajectory, exacerbations, declines, they need different types of services along the way. So palliative is for anybody at any point in advanced illness. What's hospice then? And then hospice is palliative care at the end of life. So somebody has reached a point in their illness that they want to focus on goals that are important to them, spending time with the people that are important to them, kind of let go of that "in and out of the hospital" and continue to decline, and focus on quality, and doing things they find enjoyable. So it's... palliative care more towards the end of life. Doctor, for millions of families, ours just being one of them, who has dealt, continues to deal in some cases, with end-of-life issues for our loved ones. Why... why do so many of us have such extraordinary difficulty dealing with it and making the best decisions? Because... it's a loaded question, I know, it's just too overwhelming? Right. And I think there's a lot of noise around end-of-life care. Noise? In terms of, you know, competing agendas. I mean at the end of... at the end of the day, if you ask somebody, "What's your goal?" the goal is, "I want to live as long as I can." And that's great. But that's not a goal we can achieve. Like we can't make you live to be 150. So when illness gets advanced, people think the only way is to keep coming in and out of the hospital, in and out of intensive care. Get me better? Get me better? Right? Right. But at a certain point, does it become counterproductive? Yes. And it's, you know, people... a lot of studies say, you know, people on hospice end up living longer, because they're focusing on symptoms, they're focusing on pain control, if they're short of breath, getting, you know, those types of things under control, so that they're living their best day everyday. And the medical community, you know, my colleagues aren't really equipped. We are not coming out of medical school trained in, you know, what to do when life..."