Palliative care is one of the fastest-growing health care fields, with clinical trials continuing to show positive outcomes such as in symptom control, honoring patients’ wishes, and fewer hospital admissions in the last month of life. 

To ensure that health care professionals in the Finger Lakes area are knowledgeable about topics influencing palliative care today, Jewish Senior Life partnered with University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), Greater Rochester Health Foundation, the Rotenberg family, and Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center to host a geriatric palliative care teaching day for physicians, nurses and social workers. Jewish Senior Life Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marie Aydelotte led the daylong seminar on June 8, where over 100 professionals received continuing medical education credit while hearing from nationally-recognized speakers.

Key topics at the teaching day included:

  • Family-based decision making: strategies, opportunities and challenges
  • The doula approach to meaningful death
  • Palliative care in the nursing home: program implementation strategies and survey results
  • Medical marijuana use

The keynote speaker was nationally-known palliative care expert, Timothy Quill, MD, MACP, FAAHPM. Dr. Quill was the founding director of the palliative care program at URMC, is the acting director of the university’s center for bioethics, and is a current Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, Medical Humanities and Nursing. Dr. Marie Aydelotte also spoke at the event, along with Timothy Holahan, DO; Paula E. Lester, MD, FACP, CMD; and Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW.

Dr. Marie Aydelotte defines palliative care as optimizing quality of life by anticipating and managing suffering and the overall burden of a disease. She explained that palliative care is not limited to end-of-life care, though hospice care is included in the realm of palliative care.

“Palliative care is about putting each patient in the driver’s seat,” said Dr. Aydelotte. “One of the best things about palliative care is that we are able to honor a patient’s wishes and create the best quality of life possible for that individual.”

During her overview presentation on the palliative care program at Jewish Senior Life, Dr. Aydelotte described palliative care as appropriate for a variety of diagnoses such as cancer, dementia, stroke, chronic lung disease, heart disease, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Palliative care addresses physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual needs. At Jewish Senior Life, a typical palliative care team includes a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, counselor and representatives from other disciplines as well.

Jewish Senior Life is a teaching site for a variety of health care and human services programs. For more information about Jewish Senior Life’s teaching relationships and affiliations, visit https://jewishseniorlife.org/about/affiliations-certifications/.