Monday, March 18, 2013

Meet Captain Obvious

Ya think?

We're happy to introduce a new contributor to the HPNA Boston blog. Captain Obvious will join us on a semi-regular basis to point out things we already know, or should. Because a little review never hurt anybody, right?

In today's installment, Captain Obvious says:

We're hospice professionals. We take our work seriously. We draw on our accumulated knowledge and experience, as well as that of our colleagues, teams, agencies, and professional resources like HPNA. In the course of our practive we've likely encountered just about every possible situation at least once. And when we run into something new, chances are we know exactly who to turn to for help.

We anticipate and prevent problems. We're experts at assessing and addressing pain, delirium, nausea, constipation, dyspnea, depression, anxiety, and more. We can calculate the equianalgesic doses of multiple opioids. We know when to stop a measure that's not working, and have backup plans for just such instances.

We know how essential are our colleagues in chaplaincy, social work, medicine, music therapy, bereavement, and volunteer services.  We help get them through the door when families are reluctant or unsure about meeting them.

We work in settings of abject poverty one moment, and unimaginable wealth the next.

We've sat with patients as they've drawn their last breath, and with their families in the days leading up to, and following, that moment. We've been present for the unique beauty of a peaceful death, as well as the despair of a distressing one.

In the most difficult cases or during the most trying moments, we're in the home for an hour or two out of every 24.

The greatest challenge of our work is teaching those family members, friends, and others in the home all of the hours in a day, to become as expert as we are, but in a much shorter time, with much less preparation, fewer resources, even less context, and often under tremendous emotional pressure.

And they only get to do it once.

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