The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 6, 2012

Palliative care offers team approach to the seriously ill

MANKATO — By the time doctors discovered it, a tumor had grown to the size of a baby’s head on one of her ovaries.

So Anne Walsh fought.

But she didn’t fight alone.

In recent months, she’s been working with a palliative care team at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. As palliative care teams do, they’ve been working with Walsh to make sure all of her physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs are met.

Walsh’s case was getting worse. And she wasn’t wanting to face it.

“They sat down with me recently with my minister and talked reality, that I was probably getting close to hospice care,” Walsh said. “I’d kind of had a bucket over my head, not wanting to talk about it.”

She said the palliative care team — led by Dr. Corey Ingram — explained in simple terms the exact state of her medical condition, and that she may need to consider hospice care soon. They said they’d help her with that transition, and be there to aid in her care when that time comes.

“The kind way they did it was incredible,” Walsh said. “Dr. Ingram was very kind and gentle and had the wording right. It wasn’t as scary coming from him as it would have from somebody not as compassionate.”

Walsh’s experience illustrates why palliative care is becoming a more prominent player on the medical scene.

In the past few years that Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato has had a full-fledged palliative care team, its use has grown. In 2011, they expected to work with 135 people. Instead they worked with 250. Today, they’re working with about 10 percent of the patient population.

Still, if you asked the first guy you saw on the street if he knew what palliative care is, chances are he won’t.

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