Bringing Palliative Care into the ICU

Contributed by:
Jennifer Hopwood, Operations Director – OSF ConstantCare

Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) can be hard to treat especially when they are faced with multiple illnesses. ICU patients are also likely to experience other discomforts while in the hospital such as anxiety, pain, nausea, and shortness of breath, to name a few. It is not uncommon for patients or their family members to have a hard time understanding their illnesses and treatments. This can often result in care given not matching the care desired by our patients.

Role of Palliative Care in the ICU

Palliative care is aimed at making patients more comfortable during their treatments, not just at the end of life. It also focuses on ensuring that the care being provided matches the needs and goals of the patient.

This type of care should be provided to patients in the ICU, but in the past it wasn’t. This type of care was overlooked for a number of reasons including lack of palliative care resources, poor communication, care team expectations for patients and not asking what the patient wants for their care.

Palliative Care Pilot Brings ICU Teams Together

The Comprehensive Care Center at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, Illinois has teamed up with our electronic ICU (eICU) program, OSF ConstantCare, to pilot a new eICU module that will help ensure that all patients in the hospital ICU receive palliative care from the nurses and doctors providing treatment. By working together, the eICU and ICU teams are able to better assess the patients’ needs, set treatment goals and see how well the treatment is working.

This pilot also addresses the need for clear communication between patients and families with their care team through daily rounding and scheduled family meetings. The benefits of providing palliative care for all ICU patients include an improved patient experience and a shorter length of time spent in the hospital.

About Author: Michael Vujovich

An OSF Mission Partner for over a decade, Michael Vujovich describes himself as a “photo-taking, guitar-playing, web-designing, house-remodeling, Netflix-binging, cat-loving Star Wars geek.”

As Director of Marketing Technology & Multimedia, he oversees a team of digital marketing and multimedia experts who help manage web, social media, photo, video, audio and digital advertising strategies for the OSF Ministry.

Mike earned his Bachelor of Science in Multimedia from Bradley University in 2007 and a Master of Science in Health Administration from the University of St. Francis in 2014.

In his spare time, Mike enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with his wife and their three “fur children”: Marie, Sookie and Bella.

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Categories: Palliative Care & Hospice

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