Real Life Stories: Life Changing Comfort

Palliative Care imageThe emotion, the stress, the heartache of life-threatening illness—it can consume every corner of life. And it can quickly overwhelm patients and their families…families like the Hackbarth’s.

Mark Hackbarth’s son Craig suffered a major heart attack at the age of 35. A whirlwind of tests, procedures and information overloaded Mark and his family. They quickly found themselves confused by the deep emotion of the situation and feeling uncertain about their decisions. Overwhelmed, the family turned to Froedtert’s Palliative Care Program for help. And immediately, the confusion and frustration began to fade.

The palliative care team provided a sense of order that freed Mark and his family to fully understand and focus on Craig’s condition. The young man was slipping away. Mark knew his son’s wishes. He knew he was about to make the most difficult decision of his life. While nothing could take away their pain, the support of the care team gave him the comfort and confidence he and his family needed to honor their son’s life through his last days, hours and moments. The Hackbarth’s found peace in the pain of their goodbye, for which Mark credits the palliative care team: “They helped us through the most devastating time in our lives. I could never repay them for all they did for us.”

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Palliative Care Program

In April 2013 the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Palliative Care Program celebrated its 20th anniversary. We’re proud that Froedtert’s program is one of the most established and respected in the country.

Unfortunately, Palliative Care is a relatively unknown area of healthcare – providing coordinated care and support for people with life-threatening diseases and their families. The focus is on maximizing quality of life and assisting patients so they can reach their goals. Froedtert’s Palliative Care program includes a team of doctors, nurses, advanced practice providers and a psychologist that work with both inpatients and outpatients. All have special training in end-of-life care.

Dr. Wendy Peltier, director of the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Palliative Care Center, views palliative care as an "extra layer of support" for patients and families. "A lot of clinicians feel there is no hope in terminal illness and struggle to talk to their patients," Dr. Peltier said. "There is hope. We can help with difficult situations. And I think patients and families appreciate that honesty."

Froedtert’s growing program provides services in music thanatology, prayer shawls and a volunteer doula program. All are funded through philanthropy as well as staff and physician education, and an annual Palliative Care Conference.

It is families like these who find life-changing comfort through Froedtert Hospital’s Palliative Care Program. Patients receive coordinated care that controls their symptoms, protects their quality of life, honors their wishes, and preserves their dignity as they fight the pains of illness. Their loved ones find support to help them through and beyond the most difficult times.

The Palliative Care Program is a priceless investment in the well-being of the most vulnerable. Seamless care relieves pain and reduces stress. Holistic services nurture, honor and value every precious moment of life. And behind each personal service and every ounce of hope stands generous, caring people like our donors.

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