Before being diagnosed with stage 3, inoperable, lung cancer in April, Ruth Doherty was making plans to vacation in Scotland with her sister. However, her diagnosis along with the accompanying pain and symptoms she experienced, brought her plans to a halt.
On most days, Ruth was in a lot of pain and although she had been prescribed pain medications, it was still “excruciating,” prompting her husband to call 911 one night. She was admitted to Brampton Civic where physicians were able to reduce the pain and refer her to the hospital’s soon-to-open Palliative/Pain and Symptom Management Clinic.
Ruth was one of the first patients to walk through the doors of the new clinic when it opened on July 8. It is a clinic that provides her and others who are in early-to-advanced stages of illness, with much-needed pain and symptom management as well as psychosocial support. At the clinic she is seen by a team of health care professionals who work together to ensure that she is receiving the best care possible to improve her quality of life.
This clinic is the second of its type to open at Osler recently, with the first opening at Etobicoke General in May. Both outpatient clinics provide patients with increased access to services and support to enable them to remain in their own homes while receiving care.
Research shows that early palliative care enhances a patient’s quality of life by improving symptom control and mood, and may even help them live longer. “Palliative care isn’t about dying, it’s about living well,” says Dr. Naheed Dosani, Palliative Care Physician. "When we are able to see patients soon after diagnosis, we are better able to assist in a number of areas."
The clinic applies an inter-disciplinary approach to pain and symptom management, providing patients with access to support from a palliative care physician, social worker, advanced practice nurse, dietician and a range of hospital and community resources.
“During visits we talk to patients about how they are coping, their mood, and their families, among other things,” says Dr. Dosani. “All of these areas have an impact on a patient’s well-being and we want to ensure that our patients are receiving the support they need.” Dr. Dosani also works collaboratively with other specialized physicians such as oncologists, and family physicians.
Ruth is looking forward to receiving an added level of care and support through the clinic that provides frequent touch points with patients and round-the-clock telephone support. “Belonging to this clinic means if I am in pain I can call them at any time and they will be able to help me. If I didn’t have access to this I would probably have to go to the Emergency Department whenever I was in a lot of pain,” says Ruth.
The new clinic supports Osler’s strategy to shift focus toward outpatient care to best meet the needs of the community so that patients can avoid commuting to the hospital and reduce emergency department visits.
Ruth is optimistic that her pain and symptoms will improve and she will be able to enjoy some of the hobbies she has not been able to participate in because of her illness. “I was so happy to meet Dr. Dosani and I am very impressed with my care. Everyone has been lovely,” says Ruth.
Both Etobicoke General and Brampton Civic Palliative/Pain and Symptom Management Clinics are accepting referrals from physicians. Brampton clinic hours are Tuesdays from noon to 4:00 pm, and the Etobicoke clinic hours are Thursdays from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.