MedWatch- Palliative care can aid patient suffering towards the end from Medwatch 7 KSWO on Vimeo.

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Palliative care is meant to reduce suffering at the end of a person’s life. It’s not easy making decisions about this type of care but careful planning between doctors, patients and families is a way to provide some relief for everyone in those hard times. The Hospice program at Comanche County Memorial Hospital does just that.

“Nobody wants to talk about it, but everybody is going to die at some time. And the question is, are you going to die in pain? Are you going to die with anguish? Or can you die relatively out of pain, and die in peace?” explained Dr. Richard Brittingham, the CCMH Home Health & Hospice Medical Director.

Hospice is for terminally ill patients who have been diagnosed by a physician that they are in the last 6 months of their life. Dr. Richard Brittingham says that’s where the focus of hospice comes in– support and comfort.

“There is no reason for patients to die in pain. There’s just no reason for that. We have great medications to handle that. A lot of physicians are afraid of dealing with medications in those doses, and in those ways. But there are ways to monitor and ways to control pain,” said Dr. Brittingham.

Dr. Brittingham says hospice is not just a single medical service. It consists of a medical component, a nursing component, a social component, and a spiritual component. Hospice gives patients the chance to focus on what is most important to them.

“When your life is coming to its closure, things that used to be important, like bank accounts, and houses, and cars and fancy clothes, and a lot of money in the bank, suddenly is not important anymore. Those things don’t matter. People tend to focus more on existential issues. Like did my life have meaning? Did I matter at all? Did I put a mark on the bark of the tree of life, if you will,” explained Dr. Brittingham.

It can be hard to convince patients or family of patients to consider hospice.

“People tend to equate hospice with the angel of death. And that is not what it is, hospice is not about death. Hospice is about life. It’s about making the best of those last months or weeks of life,” Dr. Brittingham said.

“I think that when my time comes, towards the end of my life, I hope that there is some doctor out there that is going to care enough to make sure that I’m not in pain and that I’m not in fear.” Dr. Brittingham says hospice is there to help you prepare, and come to terms with your own death.

If you or a loved one is in need of palliative care, talk with your doctor to find out how Comanche County Memorial Hospital’s Hospice program can help your family.
In other Health news, the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton, Duncan, and Altus are offering free colon cancer screening kits through the end of the month. Please visit any of the three locations to pick yours up or inquire about all of your screening options.

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