GeneralHealthcareStorytelling

The World Series, Palliative Care, and American History

By November 1, 2016 No Comments

The Cubs vs. Indians: American History in the Making

Update: Wednesday night the Chicago Cubs drove in a pair of runs in the top of the 10th inning for a thrilling 8-7 win in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

Nearly everyone in the United States is watching, or at least hearing about, the 2016 Cubs-Indian World Series. Game 5 on Sunday drew the largest audience for a fifth game in nearly twenty years and eclipsed two of TV’s highest-rated primetime shows.

For America, this event is history in the making.

The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. They would play in seven subsequent series: 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945.

The Cleveland Indians last won World Series titles in 1920 and 1948 but lost in 1954, 1995 (to my Atlanta Braves), and 1997.

The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908, and the Cleveland Indians last won World Series titles in 1920 and 1948.

Palliative Care: American Stories in the Making

Unlike the World Series, many people don’t know what palliative care is. For those families who are familiar with palliative care, they know it’s an often-underutilized service for patients of all ages, from pediatric to geriatric patients. Palliative care treats the symptoms and stress of patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD, etc. It can be mistaken for hospice care, which focuses on caring but not curing terminally ill patients; palliative care, however, is often a component of hospice care.

Palliative care treats the symptoms and stress of patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD, etc.

Because many palliative care patients do trend toward an older demographic, they’re a treasure-trove of stories going back generations. They remember watching, or listening, to historic games such as the current World Series to battles fought in wars read about in history books to days before air conditioning.

A palliative care team offers patients and their families with emotional and spiritual support that’s so critical during these challenging situations. For those clinical team members willing to listen—which is so often a value in and of itself for the patient—, palliative care can provide an unspoken value for both the patient and the caregiver: untold, behind-the-scenes stories of America as it’s unfolded throughout the twentieth century.

The Current Landscape of Palliative Care

Patients who received palliative care consultation, according to Health Affairs, compared to those who didn’t at four urban New York state hospitals realized an average savings of $4,100 in discharged patients. Further, 48 thousand patient records uncovered that “palliative care programs reduce direct costs per admission” by $1,700, according to JAMA Internal Medicine. That being said, most inpatient programs are underutilized, according to The Advisory Board: the consult rate at most hospitals is far below ideal—only 5% to 10%.

Fortunately, there are new companies such as Aspire Health out of Nashville, Tennessee, that specialize in providing palliative care throughout the continuum of care: for patients, for physicians, and for health plans.

Aspire Health assigns each of its patients a specialized team of clinicians that includes a physician, nurse practitioner and nurse and – depending upon your needs and preferences – a social worker and chaplain. This team will stay the same throughout your entire time with Aspire Health so that you will always know who to call.

Perhaps most importantly, Aspire Health is led by an 18-member Physician Leadership team, all of whom are leaders in the field in palliative care, spanning seven states. They understand and empathize with this underutilized field of medicine and are ready to ease their patients’ comforts, provide physical and spiritual support, but perhaps above all, listen to the stories from their patients about the past 100 years as this unrivaled country unfolded.

Someday, we’ll have our own stories to tell, particularly of the 2016 Fall Classic when one of two teams will win a World Series ring for the first time in either 68 or 108 years.

Related: These Cubs fans have waited over 80 years for a World Series win

Image: “Coca Cola” by Chris Connelly courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.