Paradigm Health Palliative Care Philosophy: Patient Goals of Care a Priority
Palliative care, in simple terms, is support care shares Paradigm Health Nurse Practitioner Terri Girt.
“When someone is going through a critical and serious life-limiting illness and the symptoms that accompany them, that is when palliative care can help,” says Girt. “For example, if someone has just been diagnosed with COPD or heart failure and they are still seeking treatment for their illness, the Paradigm Health palliative care team can assist in creating goals of care and then put into place the support to help reach those goals.”
For Girt, who has spent over 30 years as a nurse, her caregiving journey has included care for intensive care and cardiology patients. She became a clinical nurse specialist in adult health in 2003 and finished an adult gerontology primary care degree in 2018.
“Working and caring for the elderly really made me realize this was where my passion for nursing was,” Girt shares. “Palliative care and how it worked as a support system to streamline patients care working alongside, but not replacing, their primary physician was a career transition that I knew was right for me.”
Education for the patient and family is at the foundation of Paradigm Health’s palliative care through a community-based approach.
“Meeting with patients and collaborating with their primary care physicians allows me to help them establish their own personal goals of care that focus on comfort and enhancement of their everyday lives,” Girt explains. “A patient may want to continue dialysis, or another may want to stop chemotherapy – so our job is to help them streamline what the management of that chronic illness is and then establish and implement decisions on compassionate caregiving to maximize their comfort and wishes.”
Decline in Health May be Sign for Palliative Care
A decline in overall health may be one of the first things a patient or family notices that prompts investigation or conversations about next-steps caregiving.
“Paradigm Health’s palliative care approach is a perfect support partner for patients with a recent diagnosis for a chronic, serious, or life-threatening disease that they still want to seek curative treatments for,” says Girt. “Navigating the complex world of medical diagnoses, appointments, medications, and keeping all doctors on the same page can be a daunting task for patients and their families. Having an advocate, like me, to help partner, support and lead their care can be both valuable and provide stress relief.”
Girt continues that some of the illnesses commonly treated by a palliative care team are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, renal disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Her lifetime of caregiving has transitioned her care focus in the past year toward the palliative care direction and she’s enjoying the unique approach Paradigm Health has in place to support patients.
“We work to establish a unique and individualized goals of care plan for each patient,” says Girt. “I think that is what I like most about palliative care. I’m able to apply the Paradigm Health palliative care philosophy to help patients but we always focus on the individual and what is best for their long-term care.”
In her time away from caregiving, Girt loves to spend time with her granddaughter and says her kitchen is her happy place. If she steps outside, you might find her bow hunting and she’s a state championship archer as well.
“You might say I’ve always got my eye on a target whether that is outside in competition or when I’m caring for a patient,” Girt shares. “Finding what works best for a successful outcome for my patients is always my goal.”