She was an ombudsman for Santa Cruz County when Mary Ellen Hannah first heard of PAMF’s Palliative Care Program, and she was hopeful that it would help many in her community. She never thought that she herself would be a recipient of the services.
Today, she is grateful for the coping skills and new perspectives she gained from working with the program’s staff as a patient. “You have a choice in every thing that you do and I like that,” Hannah says in this poignant video. “I like having choices and being responsible for my life – and even for my death. They gave me the skills to make those choices. I stopped crying and feeling sorry for myself, because I was no longer at the mercy of life or death – I had choices.”
Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from pain, symptoms and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. Palliative Care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. This specialized medical service is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment. It can be offered in a clinical setting or provided at a patient’s home.
Headed up by Sharon Tapper, M.D., medical director of palliative care, the program was launched at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz in 2011. PAMF has since added Palliative Care services to Palo Alto in June 2012, with future plans to expand the services organzation-wide.