Monday, August 24, 2015

TECHNOLOGY - Telemedicine

COMMENT:  This article has personal significance for me.  My sister died in 2007 in similar circumstances.  She was in her early 80s with cancer and her prognosis was having to spend her remaining 6mths of life mostly hospitalized.  She and her husband made the decision to NOT take the treatments, to go on hospice care, and enjoy her remaining life visiting people and places she loved.

"When patients live far from care, video conferencing can be a palliative support lifeline" PBS NewsHour 8/18/2015


SUMMARY:  People facing life-threatening illnesses often access palliative care to ease their pain and help with difficult end-of-life choices.  But for those living in remote, rural areas, getting that comforting care can be unwieldy.  Special correspondent Joanne Elgart Jennings reports on how one doctor in Northern California is trying to come up with innovative ways to ease the process.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  People facing life-threatening illnesses often turn to palliative care, not only to address their pain, but also to navigate end-of-life choices.  It’s never an easy process, but it’s even harder for those living in remote rural areas.

One doctor in Northern California is finding innovative ways to help ease the burden.

Special correspondent Joanne Jennings reports from Humboldt County, California.  It’s the latest in our Breakthroughs series on invention and innovation.

JOANNE JENNINGS (NewsHour):  Dr. Michael Fratkin, an internist specializing in palliative medicine, is making a house call to a terminally ill patient.

WOMAN:  This is where I would like to die when I die, in my own bed, in my own home.

JOANNE JENNINGS:  At 73 years old, Kristi Goechel is confronting her mortality.  Six months ago, the retired school guidance counselor was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.  Her oncologist recommended surgery and chemotherapy, but Goechel to forgo treatment.

KRISTI GOECHEL, Retired Guidance Counselor:  My husband was in the hospital for a long time before he died.  And it was painful.  I don’t want to live the rest of my life like that.  If I have three months, six months, I don’t care.  I want quality of life with my family.

JOANNE JENNINGS:  Now home, Goechel is savoring every moment.

KRISTI GOECHEL:  I get a lot of pain.

DR. MICHAEL FRATKIN, Resolution Care:  And then where’s the pain?

JOANNE JENNINGS:  Like most palliative care doctors, Fratkin does manage pain.  But he also tries to get his patients to focus beyond the physical.

DR. MICHAEL FRATKIN:  How are you feeling inside yourself?

KRISTI GOECHEL:  Well, I’m feeling better.  I was feeling pretty crazy inside myself for a while.  And I’m trying to work that out now emotionally.

JOANNE JENNINGS:  To offer this kind of personal care requires time.  But with most of his patients living off the beaten path, far from Fratkin’s office in Eureka, that’s almost impossible.

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