Oct. 11 talk features five UVA Health System professionals
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Contact; Eric Swensen: 434-924-5679; Christine Kueter: 434-982-3312
(10-1-2012) During his Charlottesville visit, the Dalai Lama will lead an Oct. 11 panel discussion with five University of Virginia Health System clinicians who will discuss how they integrate compassionate care techniques to help patients and colleagues.
Moderated by former Charlottesville Mayor David Brown, the Oct. 11 panel discussion will feature:
Leslie Blackhall, MD
Blackhall developed her interest in palliative care – which focuses on helping patients cope with the pain and symptoms caused by an illness or condition – while in medical school at New York University at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
“I saw a lot of suffering,” she said. “I felt called to work with people who are dying. That’s part of good medical care: How can I be a good doctor to people I can’t cure?”
At UVA since 2001, Blackhall works closely with UVA Mindfulness Center and UVA Medical Center chaplains to provide palliative care to patients.
“Illnesses are not just about a body part, but how it affects the entire person,” she said. “We need to care for their pain and symptoms.”
Dorrie Fontaine, RN, PhD, FAAN
Helping patients and families navigate through serious illnesses and death can take an immense toll on the dedicated nurses and other healthcare professionals who provide care on a daily basis. That’s why the School of Nursing, led by Fontaine, developed the Compassionate Care and Empathic Leadership Initiative.
“We’re trying to create resilient students who can withstand the stresses of helping patients and families at very challenging points in their lives,” Fontaine said.
Topics covered through the Initiative include forums on how to deliver bad news to patients and families, and how health care staff, including nurses and physicians, can better cope with stress using techniques such as mindfulness and meditation. The goal is to provide better, more compassionate care – and enable caregivers across the spectrum to be thoughtful about their own mental and physical wellbeing, too.
”We’re cultivating the next generation of nurses and physicians with a keen understanding of how to care for the whole patient,” said Fontaine, “while at the same time remembering to care for themselves.”
James Nataro, MD, PhD, MBA
Nataro said his department is continuing to examine how it can use mindfulness and other contemplative medicine techniques to help their patients and families and supplement traditional medical care. One example in use is yoga for pediatric patients with special needs.
Yoga can help patients with cerebral palsy and similar conditions with body control and body awareness, Nataro said. It also has the potential to help patients become more calm and self-aware without the use of sedating medications.
A calmer, more peaceful state of mind may also enhance the effectiveness of other treatments and improve quality of life.
“It can also help people enjoy their lives more, whether they have a serious illness or a life-threatening illness,” he said.