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HEALTHY LIVING: In-home help for those with terminal illness

Individuals coping with a life-limiting illness face overwhelming challenges, so it can be hard for them to make difficult decisions and still preserve the quality of their remaining life. The good news is that they do not have to face this alone.

Franciscan Health System’s palliative care outreach services – including private, in-home consultations – are available to individuals throughout Enumclaw, southeast King County and northeast Pierce County who are a suffering terminal illness and have a medical prognosis of one year or less.

Our services include:

• Consultations by advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants and social workers in private homes and long-term care facilities, including nursing homes;

• Pain and symptom management;

• Guided advance-care planning;

• Home safety assessments.

We integrate palliative care (i.e., pain relief, symptom management) with practical support and we provide information about a broad range of community programs that can benefit terminally ill individuals and their families, even during aggressive treatment of the person’s condition.

Anyone – physicians as well as relatives and friends of seriously ill men and women – can refer individuals for Franciscan’s palliative care outreach services. Our services require approval by the patient’s primary-care physician, which we are happy to obtain.

Fee-for-service consultations and in-home visits are billed to Medicare or the patient’s private health insurance provider. Individuals who lack insurance or the ability to pay may still qualify for services under Franciscan’s policy of providing care for those who are in need regardless of their ability to pay.

Everyone with a terminal illness will eventually become eligible for in-home or inpatient hospice services. Our goal is to help patients understand all of their medical options, know what to expect as their illness progresses, and make informed choices based on their own values and wishes.

Georganne Trandum, author of this article, is a registered nurse and clinical manager of Franciscan Palliative Care Outreach. E-mail questions to her at georgannetrandum@FHShealth.org or call 1-800-338-8305. Franciscan Palliative Care Outreach is a service of the Franciscan Health System, which includes St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw.

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