Palliative care nurse finds what matters most
When a terminally ill patient’s goal of seeing his daughter deliver a commencement speech seemed unlikely, Meghan Reusser found a way to make it happen.
The patient’s condition prohibited attendance. So Reusser, a nurse practitioner with palliative care at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, arranged for a live video stream viewing from the patient’s hospital room.
She and colleagues set everything up and placed signs outside the room to provide a little privacy and make sure the experience was free of interruption. The “very, very proud” parent was able to enjoy the milestone, she said.
“This act made an enormous difference and allowed the patient to be present for this important life event, when he thought it might not be possible,” said Kathleen Fundalinski, advanced practice provider lead with UCHealth Medical Group, Palliative Care Services.
Reusser said that, when in the hospital, “patients with chronic illness lose control, independence, autonomy.” She added that these kinds of moments give a patient a chance to feel like a proud parent and have “some semblance of normalcy.”
As a nurse practitioner in palliative care, she said her work often involves setting goals that uphold quality of life as the patient lives with a chronic illness. The program helps patients with pain and symptom management, difficult decision-making and advance directives.
“We’re an extra layer of support,” Reusser said. “We figure out what matters most to patients and their family.”
Sometimes that means helping them understand complex treatment decisions, such as whether to undergo operations that might affect one’s ability to be active and alert for their family. Reusser said that such opportunities to help people drew her into the profession.
She joined PVH in 2017 and has 10 years of ambulatory care experience.
Fundalinski said that Reusser “positively impacts the lives of our patients and community on a daily basis. Meghan takes the time to listen and care about each patient’s needs and goals.”