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Aultman Critical Care Medicine Offers “Comfort Care” Program

by Tiffany Pellegrene | Jul 28, 2014
The Aultman Critical Care Medicine team recently launched a program to provide additional comfort for loved ones of dying patients. The Comfort Care program includes a brochure with common end-of-life signs, so families can understand what is happening with their loved ones.

CANTON, Ohio (July 24, 2014) – The Aultman Critical Care Medicine team recently launched a program to provide additional comfort for loved ones of dying patients.

The Comfort Care program includes a brochure with common end-of-life signs, so families can understand what is happening with their loved ones. “Emotions are often high in end-of-life situations; it’s a very difficult time for families,” said Natasha Akers, RN, BSN, of the Aultman Medical Intensive Care Unit. “We want to assist families in understanding the dying process and give them suggestions on how to comfort their loved ones.”

After reading about a similar program online, Akers recruited fellow team members in the Aultman medical and surgical intensive care units (ICUs) and the shared decision-making committees for support. She also enlisted the help of Family Liaison Sally Paumier and Chaplain Terry Livengood.

Akers contacted churches in Stark and Tuscarawas counties – asking members to donate homemade blankets, quilts or shawls – and word spread quickly. “We offer the handmade gifts to families whose loved ones are nearing death,” she explained. “The blankets often include a note or a prayer to uplift the families.”

The ICUs also offer drawstring satchels, so families can save locks of hair of their loved ones, along with handprints of the patient.

In addition to uplifting patients’ loved ones, the Comfort Care program is helpful to the Aultman Critical Care team. “We care for seriously ill patients, and sometimes a cure just isn’t possible,” Akers offered. “The Comfort Care program helps us cope with our own sadness during emotional encounters with dying patients and their family members. Being able to provide a blanket or a handprint helps us feel like we’re connecting with a family and providing an extra level of support.”

Comfort Care launched in June and has benefited dozens of families thus far. The next steps are to provide families with a packet of Forget-Me-Not seeds that can be planted in memory of their loved ones. ICU staff members will also send personalized notes to families around the one-year anniversary of their loved one’s death.  

"Thank you to the churches and Aultman staff members who have contributed to our program,” Akers said. “Their support is greatly appreciated.”

If a new church or individual would like to donate blankets, quilts or shawls to the Aultman ICU Comfort Care program, contact Natasha Akers at 330-363-6237. 

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