1. Judkins, Cheryl A. BS, RN

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On our combined Telemetry and Cardiac Progressive Care unit, we've aggressively treated patients using laboratory and stress tests, cardiac catheters, pacers, defibrillators, and stents, among other techniques and tools. Our focus was always on fixing and discharging the patient.


Recently our hospital introduced palliative care to certain units, including ours ("Palliative Care Isn't Just for the Dying," Viewpoint, July). Although we have a cancer unit in my hospital, we can now offer palliative care to patients with cancer without transferring them (depending on bed availability). This experience has helped me to realize that we may not be able to "fix" everyone. Some people will die. Death may not occur for months, but we can begin palliative care while they're in the hospital.


One of the ways we do this is by providing patients and their families with a care basket that contains, among other items, a CD player, spiritual CDs and various readings, an afghan blanket, lotions, and a "memory board"-a blank board that's hung in the patient's room and upon which items of importance to the patient, like photos and letters, are attached. This way, when we enter the room, we're reminded of who this person was before becoming sick.


I'm glad to have this opportunity to practice a different kind of nursing, to slow down and be less aggressive, to listen to the patient and make the rest of her or his time pain free and comfortable. We're treating the person, not the disease. It's the quality-not the quantity-of time that's most important.


Cheryl A. Judkins, BS, RN


Marlboro, MA