Molloy College on June 8 held its 10th annual Palliative Care Conference, which each year offers participants new tools to provide professional, competent and compassionate care to patients and their families.
Palliative care is a type of specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses, and focuses on providing relief and comfort from the symptoms and stress of those illnesses.
Experts from medicine, nursing, pastoral care, child life and social work presented the latest advancements in the fields of symptom management, ethics and communication, staff self-care and bereavement during the nearly eight-hour conference. Clinicians from all disciplines spoke about best practices and barriers to timely palliative care in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice organizations.
Palliative care has grown over the last two decades, according to Louis Cino, dean of the Division of Continuing Education at Molloy and a committee member of the conference. Graduates in a variety of professions, he added, rely on conferences such as these for professional development on the subject.
“Obviously it’s a very traumatic experience for the patients and their families, and to be able to have the help given to you by these professionals is what we strive for,” Cino said. “This is our purpose.”
The keynote speaker was Amy Berman, a registered nurse who serves as the senior program officer for the John A. Hartford Foundation, a private organization that since 1982 has awarded more than $565 million in grants to enhance the health and well-being of older adults.
Rockville Centre resident Stuart Richner, co-publisher of Herald Community Newspapers, also addressed the more than 500 people in attendance. Richner realized the need to educate and inform those faced with issues involving palliative care in 2006, when his mother, Edith, was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder.
“The medical profession, as we knew it, had neither answers nor much compassion for our situation,” Richner said.
He and his two brothers connected with Lori Hardoon, director of the Federation Employment & Guidance Service’s Partners in Dignity program at the time, who Richner said helped Edith receive the end-of-life services that made her final days more peaceful. Like Cino, Hardoon serves as a committee member for the conference.
“The field of palliative care has come a long way in these past 10 years, but we have so much further to grow,” Richner said. “It is important to not only bring these discussions about care preferences into the community, but also provide families, patients and professionals with the necessary resources to do so in an effective, tailored and respectful manner.”