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Lewiston-based palliative care fellowship for nurse practitioners may have a ‘very direct and really significant’ affect, Sen. king says

Jackie Fournier, co-director of the Nurse Practitioner fellowship program for Maine Heart for Palliative Drugs, stands Thursday in St. Mary’s Regional Medical Heart’s ICU the place she works as a nurse practitioner advisor for Maine Heart for Palliative Drugs, which is an providing of Androscoggin Dwelling Well being + Hospice. Andree Kehn/Solar Journal

LEWISTON — A nurse practitioner fellowship program in palliative care at Lewiston-based Androscoggin Dwelling Healthcare + Hospice will be capable to proceed one other yr and add a second fellow due to over $230,000 in federal funding secured by US Sen. AngusKing.

The funding was a part of the huge $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations invoice for fiscal yr 2023 accepted by Congress in late December. Maine’s congressional delegation—Sens. King and Susan Collins and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden — secured over $6.5 million for well being care-related tasks in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

King mentioned in an interview Thursday that Androscoggin Dwelling Healthcare approached his workplace with the proposal to proceed funding this system. The omnibus invoice that handed in December was the second time the US Senate Appropriations Committee accepted congressionally directed spending requests. Senators make these requests on behalf of presidency entities — sometimes cities — and nonprofit organizations, King mentioned.

“We thought that this was a very good undertaking given the inhabitants, the demographics and the necessity,” he mentioned.

Palliative care is an interdisciplinary specialty of drugs targeted on offering assist for individuals with severe and life-threatening diseases, the group’s chief medical officer, Dr. Vance Brown, mentioned Thursday.

“And so they oftentimes have actually superior signs — weak point, fatigue, ache, shortness of breath — and that is actually the specialty that concentrates on serving to assist them and make clear a few of their targets and make clear among the points associated to end-of-life planning,” Vance mentioned.

“(It is about) ensuring that we type of keep on monitor collectively as a well being care system and serving to honor these targets and serving to the affected person drive what’s necessary to them.”

King mentioned it is “no secret” that Maine is the oldest state within the nation. The median age in Maine is 44.7 years outdated, which is sort of six years older than the median age for your complete nation, in line with the 2020 Census.

“Hospice and palliative care, sadly, is a actuality and a necessity,” King mentioned, however there aren’t sufficient suppliers to fulfill the necessity.

There are solely 5 licensed palliative care suppliers for each 100,000 Maine residents, in line with knowledge offered by Androscoggin Dwelling Healthcare + Hospice.

“Sadly, it is an expending want as individuals age and method end-of-life points,” King mentioned. “And conserving individuals of their houses so long as doable is all the time higher — higher for them, higher for the household.”

The nurse practitioner program, housed throughout the Maine Heart for Palliative Drugs, a division of Androscoggin Dwelling Healthcare + Hospice, is in its first yr. Sen. Collins secured $150,000 within the omnibus invoice handed in March 2022 to start this system. This system’s first fellow, Katie Frend, began final summer time, Brown mentioned.

With this extra funding, Androscoggin Dwelling Healthcare + Hospice will be capable to provide this system a second yr and with two fellows, who start on July 1, Jackie Fournier, a palliative care nurse practitioner with Androscoggin Dwelling Healthcare + Hospice, mentioned.

Fournier helped design this system and serves as its co-director with Nastasha Stitham, who can also be a nurse practitioner on the Maine Heart for Palliative Drugs.

When Fournier and others started drafting this system a few years in the past, there have been solely seven or eight palliative care fellowships for nurse practitioners throughout the nation, Brown mentioned. In Maine, there are two fellowship packages for physicians however on the time, none for nurse practitioners.

“Nurse practitioners — as a result of all of them began as nurses and I believe due to that they’re, you recognize, tremendous hard-wired and naturally actually affected person oriented, and clearly have incredible medical backgrounds and lots of of them are excellent communicators proper of the bat — they ‘re actually, actually incredible at this work,’ he mentioned.

Androscoggin Dwelling Healthcare’s program is geared towards gaining expertise at neighborhood and rural practices, versus in massive college settings, Brown mentioned. The fellows rotate via quite a few medical settings, together with at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Heart and Central Maine Medical Heart, Androscoggin’s Hospice Home and thru their dwelling hospice program.

“Finish of life is a really tough time, clearly, for everybody concerned. The affected person, clearly, however the household as effectively. And it is comforting to have skilled assist,” King mentioned.

“… It is form of tough to make use of the time period ‘high quality of life’ for somebody who’s dying, however what you are actually speaking about is high quality of life on the finish — making an attempt as greatest we will to make the final days, weeks and months of somebody’s life as comfy as doable for them, and as comforting as doable for his or her household. And that is why I believe that is a kind of tasks the place the affect might be very direct and really significant to households and sufferers.”


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