Sacred Heart University and St. Vincent's Medical Center to Co-Host Palliative Care Conference

News Story: October 18, 2017

Sacred Heart University’s College of Nursing and St. Vincent's Medical Center will host “Living Well Through Illness: Charting a Patient-Centered Voyage,” a palliative care conference, on Saturday, Nov. 11. Geared for patients, families, caregivers, health-care providers and the public at large, it will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at SHU’s Frank and Marissa Martire Business & Communications Center.

Professors Brian Stiltner and Corinne Lee said they organized the conference with two goals in mind: first, to provide patients, their families and caregivers with information and inspiration regarding the palliative care experience; and second, to offer health-care providers useful information to share with their patients. 

“Palliative care is about so much more than care in the dying process,” said Stiltner, professor of theology and religious studies. “It’s about helping patients achieve the necessary support and comfort to live fully, no matter what serious illness they are facing. Our conference will give inspiration, hope and practical advice for anyone in the community who wants to know more about the best current practices for comfort care and social support.”

This conference is the fruit of ongoing inter-professional initiatives between SHU and St. Vincent’s Medical Center. In light of the increasing demand for palliative care services during the last several years, representatives from the College of Nursing and St. Vincent’s Palliative Care Department met to discuss needs in the local academic and community populations. As a result of this dialogue, a Palliative Care Committee was formed, co-chaired by Stiltner and Lee, clinical assistant professor of nursing.

The committee comprises professionals in nursing, medicine, social work, rehabilitation, ethics and spiritual leadership.

“Originally there had been discussion about developing an inter-professional palliative care course elective to be offered to undergraduate and graduate students, but the issue of meeting the needs of the community—patients and their families and caregivers—continued to surface,” Lee said. “As a committee, we explored many ideas for collaboration but ultimately decided to begin with this conference and continue to build on this first initiative, thus providing education and support to both populations.”

The conference will begin in the morning with registration, coffee and welcome addresses from the deans at SHU. Among the sessions are:

  • “Palliative Care: Rethinking the Name and the Need,” by Robert Fitton, director of palliative care at St. Vincent’s Medical Center
  • “Aligning Your Values and Spirituality with Your Health-Care Choices,” by Fr. Anthony Ciorra, vice president of Catholic Mission and Identity at SHU, and Stiltner
  • “Palliative Care and Decision Making in Serious Illness: Current Legal and Regulatory Frameworks and Future Directions,” by Mary Beth Morrissey, a professor at Fordham University
  • “Rehabilitation: Maximizing Quality of Life,” by Beverly Fein, an associate professor and director of clinical education at SHU
  • “A Physician’s Perspective,” by Lisa Caramico of Bridgeport Hospital

“We hope that, through the speakers’ educational and emotionally moving words, participants will leave with knowledge of how to support those involved with palliative care, and that those patients and their families and caregivers leave feeling more hopeful, empowered and supported,” Lee said.

The conference will conclude with lunch and a speaker panel with audience questions, moderated by Linda Strong, associate professor in the College of Nursing.

For additional information, visit http://www.sacredheart.edu/academics/collegeofnursing/palliativecareconference/. We are currently at the maximum capacity for this event, but CLICK HERE if you would like to be added to a wait list.