Palliative care program relocates to Ottawa

Ottawa doctor Jose Pereira is happy many local medical practitioners are taking advantage of the Pallium Project's workshops on palliative care since the program relocated from Alberta to the capital.

A national program to help educate doctors and nurses about palliative care has relocated from Alberta to Ottawa.

The Pallium Project began 11 years ago as an outreach service offering workshops for family doctors lacking expertise on treating terminally ill patients.

The two-day workshop is for family doctors, nurses and pharmacists and teaches how to manage pain, shortness of breath, and using appropriate drugs.

Since moving its operations to Ottawa, several hundred healthcare professionals from the region have taken the Pallium Project’s two-day workshop, but organizers would like to see more sign up.

Dr. Jose Periera, chief of palliative medicine at the Ottawa Hospital and Bruyere Continuing Care, started the project.

"We often think of palliative care as what can no longer be done and that’s not the case," he said. "It’s what can still be done … there's still lots of living and how can we maximize that."

Knowing a patient’s personal story and their families makes all the difference said Pereira.

He said he is encouraged because local surgeons and cardiologists are signing up to take the course. He said many experienced professionals just don't have palliative experience.

"I think we all have to start for a place of not knowing and being okay with that and I think one needs to recognize where one's limitation are and be open to the opportunities to enhance those skill sets. When the patients illness is progressive and incurable it makes all the difference," he said.