February 22, 2019

Free conference in Bloomington offers information, resources on how palliative and hospice care can add to the dignity of life

By Natalie Hoefer

All are invited to participate in a free Palliative Care and Hospice Care Conference at St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington from 8:30 a.m.-noon on March 11.

The conference will feature a talk and breakout discussions on case studies, both offered by hospice and palliative medicine physicians Dr. Colleen Brown of Ascension St. Vincent (formerly St. Vincent Health) and Dr. David Mandelbaum of Franciscan Health. Both hospitals are in Indianapolis.

“This conference is for all those in the community who are interested in learning more about palliative care and hospice care,” says Brie Anne Varick, archdiocesan coordinator of the Office of Human Life and Dignity.

It is part of an ongoing initiative of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Franciscan Health and Ascension St. Vincent to raise awareness of the dignity of palliative care and hospice care. The initiative will “provide education and resources for those who accompany individuals and their families through chronic illness, suffering and the end stages of life,” says Varick.

One goal of the conference is to explain the difference between palliative care and hospice care.

“There are many misconceptions about what palliative care and hospice care are, how they’re alike, and more importantly how they’re different,” she says. “We hope to dispel those misconceptions.”

Another goal of the conference is “for those who are personally suffering or have loved ones who are suffering from a chronic illness or facing end-of-life issues, to give them confidence that they are not alone,” Varick continues. “We want to equip them with knowledge that there is a community of resources and support available during these difficult times.”

She notes that parishes “often want to support and journey with those struggling through this difficult time [of chronic illness and end-of-life issues], but aren’t exactly sure how to do so. We hope that this conference, and the ongoing follow up of this initiative, will better equip clergy, pastoral staff and lay leaders to accompany those carrying this burden.”

Check-in for the conference will begin at 8:30 a.m., with light refreshments provided.

Brown and Mandelbaum will then give an overview of hospice and palliative care, followed by breakout case study discussions, which they will lead.

The final session of the day is a hospice and palliative care panel discussion. The panel will include Brown and Mandelbaum, Franciscan Health hospice nurse Elizabeth Williams, and Father C. Ryan McCarthy, moral theologian and pastor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.

The conference will conclude at noon.

(Pre-registration is preferred for this free event, although walk-ins will be accepted. To pre-register, go to bit.ly/2QQDWup [case-sensitive]. St. Paul Catholic Center is located at 1413 East 17th St., in Bloomington. For questions about the conference, contact Brie Anne Varick at 317-236-1543, 800-382-9836, ext. 1543, or beichhorn@archindy.org. For more information on the Hospice and Palliative Care Initiative, go to www.archindy.org/humanlifeanddignity/hospice.html.)

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