Comfort Care at Glenridge:

 

In recent months, MaineGeneral has been hard at work establishing a five-bed unit of private rooms dedicated to patients with a terminal diagnosis who are in need of specialized health care services. Comfort Care is currently piloting its services for members of our long term care community at Glenridge and is ultimately intended to host inpatients transferred from the Alfond Center for Health.

What is “Comfort Care?” Rooted in a palliative approach and defined as compassionate, specialized end-of-life care, Comfort Care affirms life and regards dying as a natural process. Comfort Care is intended to provide an option to patients and families as medical care changes from curing strategies to comfort measures at the end-of-life transition. This service is overseen by Dr. Robert Dohner, director of Palliative Care, and patients are cared for by nurses specially trained in hospice and palliative care.

Goals include:

  • Provide ongoing pain management and symptom control
  • Provide an environment for privacy and personal dignity in accordance with patient/family wishes
  • Offer a multidisciplinary team approach that includes but is not limited to: physicians, nurses, pharmacists, palliative care, spiritual care, social workers, dietary counselors and volunteers
  • Provide a consistent environment during the last weeks of life

Why provide a dedicated wing?
The “why” is multi-faceted. On the one hand, MaineGeneral currently sees numerous patients in need of comfort measures at various facilities throughout our system. These patients require a specialized level of care that’s not easily replicated at multiple sites. Consolidating comfort care patients in one location will allow us to provide appropriate clinical support in a homelike setting designed to meet the unique needs of patients with a life-limiting illness.

On the other, we know that quality of life, no matter how much time remains, matters. We recognize that a life that’s winding down is the culmination of many more days spent living before dying. The final chapter is important, but it’s not nearly the whole story.


Pictured top to bottom: Original, current and future entry with new addition to Comfort Care wing; floor plan rendering below

The goal for these individuals is not to cure; that page has turned. Instead, they are focused on living a good life until the very end – managing pain, breathing in fresh air and feeling it down to their toes, making phone calls to friends, playing patty-cake with the next generation, writing down favorite family recipes for future meals they’ll miss in presence, but not in spirit. They are focused on living these final days, not dying them.

Benefits of a dedicated Comfort Care wing

  • Continuity of care: the same medical director oversees palliative care at all of our locations and a designated physician and nurse follow patients throughout their transition
  • Staffing ratio is two to five: one RN and one CNA for five patients
  • While the setting is clinical in nature, intention is being put into creating a homelike environment to support and honor the experience for both patient and family.


This floor plan rendering features space designed to accomodate visiting loved ones while enhancing patient access to homelike comforts (subject to revisions)

“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”
- Atul Gawande 

 

Donors can make a difference
As mentioned, we are converting an existing wing at our Glenridge location. The wing has a separate entrance and all rooms are private, newly painted and refurnished. We have the infrastructure to meet the clinical needs of these patients during their stay. We’d like to do more to enhance the patient and family experience during these vulnerable final days.

Our hope is to construct a welcome vestibule and family room at the entry to the wing. This area would be equipped with a kitchen, several comfortable seating areas, and a porch and patio for patient and family enjoyment. We also recognize that the interior environment is not the only one that matters. Throughout our facilities we embrace the value of natural light and green space as having a great influence on one’s state-of-mind; we’d like to do the same here by surrounding the wing with green space.

Perhaps your family has navigated this process before without the aid of such dedicated resources or you recognize this need for your loved one in the near future. Regardless of the why, if this mission speaks to you and you would consider contributing toward this effort with philanthropic dollars, we’d love to tell you more! We can’t build the new addition without significant donor support. We’re eager to start the conversation and take comfort care to a whole new level for patients and families alike.

 

MaineGeneral Health
Office of Philanthropy

Physical location
35 Medical Center Parkway
Augusta, ME  04330-8067
Phone: (207) 626-1809
philanthropy@mainegeneral.org

Mail only
PO Box 828
Waterville, ME  04903

Copyright 2016 MaineGeneral Health Office of Philanthropy