For most people, speaking about death and dying is an uncomfortable conversation that is avoided rather than confronting the discomfort of difficult issues. But Project HOPE volunteer Carma Erickson-Hurt has traveled around the world to assist health care professionals in better understanding patient needs at this critical stage of their lives.
This week Carma gave a series of presentations for the staff at Tapaz Regional Hospital on the proper way to manage and support the dying patient. The presentations were attended by the hospital’s dedicated nursing staff and many support personnel anxious to learn about a topic that is seldom discussed. The hospital staff is not unfamiliar with death and dying - having recently been in the path of Typhoon Haiyan. Death during the storm came quickly to most. In the aftermath of the storm the local caregivers must be prepared to face the reality of death due to disease and starvation.
Carma Erickson-Hurt was educated as a nurse. She holds degrees from the University of Texas at San Antonio and Marquette University in Wisconsin. She is currently working on a doctorate in nursing at Oregon Health Sciences University. Carma joined a team of nineteen Project HOPE volunteers who arrived on Panay Island on December 2. The island was in the early stages of recovering from a direct hit by Typhoon Haiyan, which caused widespread death and destruction across the southern Philippines. She is a certified nurse educator by the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) and has delivered the presentation hundreds of time all over the world.
The hospital staff learned about a comprehensive approach to assisting patients as death approaches. The presentation included discussions concerning palliative care, pain management, communication and bereavement. The principle message focused on allowing the patient to define the care they need to improve the quality of their lives.
The topic is not easy to discuss but the staff at Tapaz Regional Hospital face death and dying every day. Each participating staff member received a certificate recognizing his/her participation. As a result of Carma’s presentation and the support of Project HOPE, the caregivers in Tapaz are now better prepared to provide comfort and support at a time when patients need it the most.
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