Palliative Medicine Conference Reflections

Having traveled to Southwest Colorado from Philadelphia about a month ago, one can’t help but notice many differences between the two. Most of them are great: spectacular scenery, the close-knit community of a small town, MOUNTAINS, etc. However, one also can’t help but notice the greater isolation as well. With that comes decreased access to information and resources – just look at the difference between gas prices in Denver and in Telluride. Not quite the same.

Therefore, it was extremely exciting that just a couple weeks ago on a typically sunny and beautiful Colorado spring day, two of the world’s foremost experts on a new and innovative medical specialty came in person to the Placerville Schoolhouse and gave a presentation to various members of the West End medical community. Charles F. von Gunten, MD, PhD, FACP, FAAHPM and Frank D. Ferris, MD, FAAHM, FAACE are both pioneers in the field of palliative medicine, which is care given to improve the quality of life of patients with serious illnesses. The goal of palliative care is not to cure but to instead focus on improving the patient’s quality of life—not only in their body, but also in their mind and spirit.

Dr. von Guten and Dr. Ferris led the participants through a series of presentations, exercises and discussions which ranged from the differences between hospice and palliative care to pain and symptom management to even palliative care billing. The responses from the participants were overwhelmingly positive as I overheard numerous compliments regarding the presenters, the presentations, the interactive exercises and discussions, and even the venue and the food (catered by Cindy Bread in Telluride)!

As this was just the first part of the presentation series, Transforming Healthcare: Palliative Medicine as a Core Competency in Practice, we will be holding the second part of the series in early November. Don’t miss out – so please remember to save the date for November 4, 5, or 6!

— Jay Shih, the Analyst

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