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New Palliative Medicine Hotline Reaches California

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 General News J E 4
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The Institute for Palliative Medicine in San Diego officially launches PAL-MED CONNECT

California's first statewide consultative service for palliative care

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Health care professionals in California communities lacking palliative medicine resources can now access top quality palliative care consultative and educational support through a new hotline provided by The Institute for Palliative Medicine.

Palliative care provides advanced pain and symptom management to those suffering from complex chronic or life-limiting illnesses.  Now physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical pharmacists anywhere in the state can call and get help providing the best possible care for those suffering and in need of palliative care.

The hotline, formally called the "California Palliative Care Consultation Center Hotline," is better known as PAL- MED CONNECT.  Launched in the San Diego region in July, it is now available across California and can be accessed by calling (toll free) 1-877-PAL-MED4. There is also a companion web site at www.palmedconnect.org.

"The need for access to consultative resources in palliative care is great," noted Dr. Charles von Gunten, Provost of The Institute for Palliative Medicine. "Yet there are only 273 board-certified palliative care physicians in California and many smaller communities and rural areas don't have any to serve their residents. As our population ages, the need will only increase. We want this hotline to become the lifeline that helps caring professionals bring Californians relief from suffering."

PAL-MED CONNECT is made possible through a grant from UnitedHealth Group. "Thanks to the grant from UnitedHealth Group, we can share everything we've learned from our research and our clinical practice at The Institute by phone and online with physicians, nurse practitioners, and clinical pharmacists caring for seriously ill patients," said Helen McNeal, Executive Director of The Institute for Palliative Medicine. "We expect this resource to make a significant difference in the lives of many patients and their families by connecting their healthcare professionals with specialized information, advice, and resources."  

To date, the most popular topics among callers accessing PAL-MED CONNECT have been on safely prescribing opioids, converting between different therapies, pain management and having difficult family conversations.  Despite formally operating only in San Diego until today, calls have come from as far away as Oklahoma and New York, demonstrating the critical need for this resource.

The experts at The Institute for Palliative Medicine have been providing outstanding education and research for 20 years since its founding as the Center for Palliative Studies in 1989. The Institute for Palliative Medicine has achieved international recognition for its innovative education programs, patient/family-centered research and evidence-based advocacy. In 2006, The Institute for Palliative Medicine helped pioneer the palliative medicine subspecialty approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

About The Institute for Palliative Medicine

The Institute for Palliative Medicine is internationally recognized for its excellence in palliative care education and research. Located on the campus of San Diego Hospice in San Diego, CA, The Institute for Palliative is the home of the PAL-MED CONNECT Hotline and is dedicated to the relief of suffering through the transformation of health care. It focuses on discovering, demonstrating and disseminating strategies for palliative care in existing health care systems whether here in San Diego or throughout the world.  Physicians and healthcare professionals from around the globe come to The Institute for Palliative Medicine to study. Home to the country's largest palliative medicine physician fellowship program, the Institute also provides education to more than 1700 health care students and professionals each year.

For more information, visit online at www.sdhospice.org

CONTACT:  Melissa DelaCalzada, The Institute for Palliative Medicine, +1-619-278-6139; mdelacalzada@sdhospice.org

SOURCE San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine

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