(RHINELANDER, WI) – Colette Zunk, MSW, CSW, palliative care coordinator at Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital, recently participated in two intensive training sessions that focused on leadership in end-of-life care.
The End-of-Life Certificate Program, an advanced course in palliative care, provided concentrated education on topics related to advanced illness and end-of-life care. The program was facilitated by distinguished researchers, educators and leaders in the field of social work and palliative care. In addition, these courses provided an opportunity to connect with a community of colleagues across the United States.
“Taking part in these two specialized programs was an invaluable experience,” said Zunk. “Having a serious, or potentially life threatening, illness can be very difficult for individuals and their families. The information and training that I received from these programs have enhanced my ability to help patients with very complex situations.”
The program was co-sponsored by Smith College and Baystate Medical Center, a part of Tufts New England Medical Center in Northampton, Massachusetts, and ExCEL in Social Work: Excellence in Cancer Education and Leadership, which is offered annually in partnership with City of Hope, the Association of Oncology Social Work and the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Workers.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from symptoms, including pain and the stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. At Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital, the palliative care program is provided by a trained social work case manager, specialized in palliative care, who works with the patient’s primary care provider, as well as other providers, to provide an extra layer of support.
Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment. Palliative care is not the same as hospice care and is not just for care at the end of life. Palliative care helps patients with a serious illness learn to manage their illness, address the stresses related to living with a serious illness, and assist with long-range planning. The palliative care program at Ministry Saint Mary’s was developed in 2001 and is available to patients in the hospital as well as in the community. This program is available at no cost. To see if palliative care is right for you or a loved one, please contact Colette Zunk, MSW, CSW, at 715.361.2657, or toll-free at 800.242.9252.