SOMC Palliative Care Provides More Than Just Healthcare

SOMC Palliative Care patient Jennie Cline (right) and Jenni Smathers, RN, (left) have formed a special bond through Jennie’s on-call care of Cline as she battles pancreatic cancer.
When Jennie Cline, 79 of Portsmouth, was first referred to Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Palliative Care program, she wasn’t sure what the program would offer or how it could help her. She didn’t realize that she would make a life-long friend that would help her battle pancreatic cancer.

“Palliative care is a form of one-on-one home-based treatment that specializes in reducing the severity, symptoms and stress of a serious chronic illness, such as cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease or kidney failure,” Chad Lore, liaison of SOMC Palliative Care, said. “It’s not hospice or limited to end-of-life care.”

In December 2010, Cline’s pain began to increase and she consulted Dr. Summers at the SOMC Cancer Center. He referred her to the SOMC Palliative Care program.

When Cline met Jenni Smathers, RN, Palliative Care RN Case Manager at SOMC, they formed an instant bond. Smathers became more than just a nurse who checked on Cline after treatments, Jenni became a caregiver, a confidant, a reliable source for education and supporter as she would go to Cline’s home and assess her pain, check her vital signs and provide emotional support.

“I know I can call Jenni day or night if I need something,” Cline said. “Having a nurse and friend available reassures me that I can make it through the night or make it through my treatment.”

In addition to the individualized one-on-one care the program offers, it also helps ease the burden on family when taking care of a loved one, especially with a chronic disease.

Cline’s niece Sandi Frazer echoed her sentiments, “I have peace of mind because I know that no matter what my aunt my need, someone, a nurse, will be able to help her. This is the best program I’ve seen. They provide wonderful care and love.”

The program is offered 24-hours a day through an on-call interdisciplinary team of experts including nursing case managers, physicians and social workers. Other skilled disciplines may be consulted when needed to provide the patient and their family members with the best care possible. The team can provide in-home blood draws, education, pain management and emotional support.

Cline said, “Participating in Palliative Care has helped me with my treatments, my attitude, my outlook and that support, along with family and faith will help me get through this.”

A patient, family member, friend, nurse or physician may initiate referrals. For more information about the SOMC Palliative Care Program, or to refer a patient, please call the Palliative Care Office at 353-2567.