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Texas Health Fort Worth Opens First Palliative Care Unit in North Texas
07/30/2009

FORT WORTH, Texas — Back pain was common for 80-year-old Lela Adams of Fort Worth. It was just a normal symptom of old age — or so she thought.

When the pain turned into total exhaustion — coupled with nausea and vomiting — Adams finally agreed to go to the hospital. Doctors at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth diagnosed her with metastatic cancer. This diagnosis was a complete shock for her and her family.

Adams was a perfect candidate for the new palliative care unit at Texas Health Fort Worth. This 16-bed inpatient unit is the first dedicated inpatient unit in North Texas and is designed to meet the growing need of the aging population.

Palliative care specializes in treating patients who are diagnosed with life-limiting or terminal illnesses, but may still be seeking aggressive treatment. The care also focuses on the family members who are facing tough medical decisions with their loved one.

“Many individuals are living longer, but suffering from chronic or debilitating diseases. Our goal is to provide the patient and their family care that addresses the stress and pain associated with any disease and end-of-life,” said Alvin Mathe, D.O., medical director of the palliative care unit. “As we continue to see an increase in the aging population, we want our patients to know that we have dedicated services to bridge the gap between acute care and hospice care.”

Palliative care is a relatively new specialty in medicine. Adams did not pursue aggressive treatment, but looked to the palliative care unit to help control her pain. The palliative care team also helped her family cope with the diagnosis.

“Our palliative care team is trained to treat the patient’s symptoms while simultaneously helping the family cope and make tough end-of-life decisions,” said Ashley Hodo, nurse manager of the palliative care unit. “Forming relationships with the patients and family members is one of the most important aspects of palliative care.”

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth is 724-bed, Magnet-designated regional referral center that has served the residents of Tarrant County since 1930. The hospital’s services include cardiovascular services, high-risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatal intensive care, and trauma/emergency medicine. Texas Health Fort Worth is also home to the 100-bed Texas Health Harris Methodist Heart Center. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Fort Worth has more than 4,000 employees, 200 volunteers and nearly 1,000 physicians practicing on the medical staff. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Fort Worth.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 14 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, and Texas Health Presbyterian, and an organization for medical research and education. Texas Health Organization for Physicians and Texas Health Physicians Group provide a variety of models for engagement with physicians. Texas Health Partners is a joint venture development and management company owned by Texas Health Resources. Texas Health MedSynergies is a joint venture that offers physicians a range of office management and other business services to support their practices. Texas Health is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

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