The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 26, 2013

Health forum to focus on palliative care, dealing with dementia

By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer

NORTH MANKATO — South Central College’s second run at a health symposium is taking a decidedly different turn.

After debuting the event last year with a featured speaker from tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., this year’s event — titled “Tender Loving Care” — features two intriguing speakers.

Cory Ingram is a palliative care physician who cares for people at the final stages of life. He’s among the only palliative care specialists in the area.

Ingram, an assistant professor of both family medicine and palliative medicine in the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, has conducted extensive research into improving the care of seriously ill patients and their families.

The other speaker at the event is Jim Roe, a man whose story of dealing with his wife’s dementia was featured in a two-part Free Press series. Roe, a former pastor, has been caring for his wife, Judy, who continues to battle with Lewy body dementia.

“Our premise is that one conversation can make all the difference,” symposium organizer Tami Reuter said.

The idea for the this year’s topic came from Reuter.

“I had the fortune of hearing Dr. Ingram speak at Rotary,” Reuter said.

But she didn’t exactly line up to hear the man.

“I went in kicking and screaming,” she said, recalling her enthusiasm for Ingram’s talk.

Her mind was changed though.

“He said, ‘If you’re at least 18 years of age and have a heartbeat, then this is relevant to you,’” Reuter said. “At the drop of a hat, life can change.”

She said that she and her husband each have made their wishes known so that, should the need ever arise, their final wishes can be carried out without question or uncertainty.

“But I learned from Cory that not all people make that decision,” she said.

The symposium will be free for students in both high school and college.

South Central College Dean of Academic Affairs W.C. Sanders said the symposium is an added value for the college’s health careers students.

“For our health occupation students, it’s an opportunity to gain professional development,” Sanders said. “It’s a valid conversation to have no matter who you are or what you do. ... All nursing students, medical assistant students, pharmacy students — they all need to be aware of the different types of end-of-life situations.”

The forum is 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Monday in the Conference Center at South Central College. The forum is free for students and $35 for non-students. Call 389-7203 for more information.