Updated February 17, 2005
Researchers at UC Davis Medical Center and the West Coast Center for Palliative Education, Sacramento, CA, are improving end-of-life care for some of California's hardest to reach populations. The Simultaneous Care project expands and improves the level of palliative care available to people in three isolated, rural areas, Colusa, Tuolumne and Plumas Counties, as well as within the state's women's prison population.
According to the project's principal investigator, Dr. Frederick J. Meyers, professor and chair of Internal Medicine at UC Davis, though dissimilar in many ways, each of the targeted populations lacks access to palliative or hospice care. People living in these three rural communities and women dying in the state's prisons are directly benefiting from the outreach programs established via this new project.
Palliative care focuses on comfort and the psychological, social and spiritual well being of dying individuals and assists patients and their families with the difficult, but normal, challenges of facing life's end.
Within this project, palliative care experts train teams of health providers to work in the rural counties and to use teleconferencing links to UC Davis physicians for immediate assistance in the care of dying patients. Using remote television, UC Davis physicians view patients and offer suggestions for care.
Additionally, health care workers in the women's correctional institutions receive palliative care training to provide better care for female inmates who are dying.
Another component of the program provides palliative medical services to UC Davis Cancer Center patients who choose to participate in experimental cancer clinical trials, which usually make them ineligible for hospice services. This action improves patient's quality of life while they are undergoing experimental therapies.
The researchers are evaluating the impact of their interventions and education on the quality of care, as well as the quality of life of patients served.
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Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care is a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation dedicated to long-term changes in health care institutions to substantially improve care for dying people and their families. Visit PromotingExcellence.org for more resources.