Thursday, May 24th, Dr. Tamina Toray of Western Oregon University spoke in Hovland Hall to a group of 16 students and 4 professionals on the topic, “Palliative Care: Transforming the Care of Serious Illness.” Dr. Toray teaches the course On Death and Dying at Western Oregon University, and works in conjunction with Dr. Courtney Campbell, here at OSU, in the Medical Humanities program. Multiple Oregon universities jointly offer the program, an updated approach to what used to be known as a Pre-Med program.
End-of-life care is changing from the earlier model of physician-centered, cure-focused treatment, to an emerging model of patient-centered treatment, with focus on quality-of-life. Increasing, and earlier use of the hospice is now being seen, with use of Advanced Directives slated to increase as well.
This ‘table talk’ addressed the changing medical protocols of death and dying. Past medical policy produces long, expensive hospital stays with the primary effort being cure of chronic disease. Future, patient-centered focus will rely upon earlier use of the hospice system and palliative care (pain relief) with increased use of the advanced directive.
An “advanced directive” is a legal document directing the medical system as to patient preferences regarding end of life issues. Patients (and families) will thus manage and direct all major care-related decisions. Decreased patient anxiety and improved family harmony are reported as direct benefits of the new system, with a decreased likelihood of family financial bankruptcy.
Patient-centered policies are thus seen as beneficial to both medical system and patient. With increased patient loads predicted by current demographic shifts and aging of the population, the medical system will need constant adaptation for continued efficiency.
Dr. Toray is a member of the Benton County Hospice Board of Directors, and is co-chair of the Hospice Ethics Committee. Dr. Courtney Campbell teaches in the OSU Program in Medical Humanities. He researches ethics in the physician-patient relationship and new medical technologies, and teaches ethics at the end of life, and on death and dying.
The OSU Program in Medical Humanities, “a distinctive multidisciplinary program,” may be found at: http://oregonstate.edu/cla/medical-humanities/
*Anthony F. Miller is pursuing a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at Oregon State University.