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Release: April 23, 1999

University of Iowa focuses on improving end-of-life care

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- As part of an effort to meet the unique needs of patients requiring end-of-life care, the University of Iowa has invited an internationally recognized expert in the field to be the keynote speaker at a statewide educational conference on pain management and palliative care.

Kathleen M. Foley, M.D., director of The Soros Foundation's Project on Death in America and co-director of the Pain and Palliative Care Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, will speak at the conference. Titled "Practical Strategies for Clinicians Providing
End-of-Life Care," the conference will be held Friday, April 30 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville.

Over 150 health care professionals from throughout the state have registered to attend the first Iowa Palliative Care Conference sponsored by the UI Cancer Center, the Palliative Care Consultation Service at the UI Hospitals and Clinics, the UI Pain Interest Group and the UI College of Medicine.

The conference is a continuing education opportunity open to physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers and pastoral care professionals. Conference topics include advanced pain management strategies, management of depression in patients with terminal illnesses, cancer pain management, non-pain symptom management and a keynote address by Foley titled "Palliative Care in America: Challenges and Opportunities."

Foley will also visit the UI campus to lecture to second-year physician assistant and medical students in the UI College of Medicine course, "Care of the Dying Patient." The UI College of Medicine is one of a few medical schools nationwide that offers students a formal course covering
end-of-life care issues.

The UI's commitment to promoting excellence in palliative care extends throughout the state through the teleconferencing program, "Televised Learning Conferences on End-of-Life Care." This project, supported by The Soros Foundation's Project on Death in America, links 42 participating hospices throughout Iowa in sponsoring monthly interactive teleconferences educating health professionals on palliative care topics.

In addition, Foley will join UI faculty and staff in celebrating the opening of the palliative care unit at the UIHC. The Palliative Care Consultation Service provides care for inpatients at the UIHC through an interdisciplinary team that includes a physician, a nurse, a social worker and a chaplain. The five-bed unit is located within the John and Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center.

"Recent public attention to the activities of Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Oregon's legalization of physician-assisted suicide has dramatically emphasized the need to improve patient care, research and education in end-of-life care," said Kirk Payne, M.D., director of the UIHC's Palliative Care Consultation Service. "In caring for patients near the end of life, our goal is to help patients get the most out of living by addressing their physical symptoms, emotional and spiritual needs."