Palliative Care Resources

Palliative Care at Fletcher Allen

Fletcher Allen strives to provide the highest quality service, and that service starts here. This means providing you - our patients, families and community members - with the information and resources you need, when you need them.

Whether you are looking for health resources you can trust to help make informed decisions, you are seeking information to prepare for an upcoming appointment, or you are in need of directions to one of our 30 locations, we’ve brought together a number of palliative care resources for both family members and patients as well as community physicians and health care professionals.

We look forward to serving you.

No One Dies Alone

A national program new to Fletcher Allen has a goal that is evident in its title: No One Dies Alone. The program offers support and comfort to patients at the end of life – and to their families – and is staffed by hospital volunteers who have gone through an additional training program. Patients are referred to the program by our Palliative Care team.

The effort to bring the program to Fletcher Allen was initiated by Director of Volunteer Services Margaret Laughlin, who says that when she sent out the word, "The response was amazing."

Among those responding was Ann Slattery, Fletcher Allen's Health Assistance Program coordinator from Community Health Improvement, who previously worked at the Visiting Nurse Association's Respite House in Williston. Margaret credits Ann with pulling the program together, with ample help from Barb Segal, R.N., and Maura McClure, R.N., the two clinical nurse specialists who work with palliative care patients. They also drew on the experience of other Vermonters with end-of-life training.

Patients likely to be referred to the new program are Palliative Care patients who are nearing the end of life and have few or no family members who live locally. The goal of palliative care is to relieve the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness regardless of the patient's prognosis. Some, but not all, are in hospice care.

Approximately 20 current hospital volunteers of varying ages and backgrounds signed up for the program. Many also have hospice training. Their role is simply to be there with patients when they die. While some minimum contact is permitted – holding a hand, maybe – the nursing staff provides patient care.

Each death is different – "It's never routine," says Maura – and the staff also makes sure that the volunteers are taken care of. Ann, Barb, and Maura spoke of the great emotion present at death, and said those who lose a loved one never forget the volunteers or staff who go through the experience with them.

The group hopes that No One Dies Alone supports and deepens the Palliative Care program, which served 800 patients in 2009 and has 15 to 25 patients under their care at any one time. Of those, Barb and Maura say, one to three patients are "actively dying" on any given day. Now, fewer will do so without the support of a caring volunteer.

Online Resources for Patients

The Fletcher Allen Palliative Medicine Program has selected a number of online resources for patients and family members. These resources are compiled by the Program’s providers who are specially trained to support the physical and psychological needs of patients and families facing the complex challenges of life-threatening or chronic illness.

  • Madison-Deane Initiative - A program of Vermont's Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, has been working to transform end-of-life care since 1997. 
  • GetPalliativeCare.org - Developed by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), this website provides clear, comprehensive palliative care information for people coping with serious, complex illness. 
  • PalliativeDoctors.org - Developed by American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), this patient-focused website is intended to reach out directly to patients and their families who might benefit from the specialized medical care AAHPM members provide.

Online Resources for Providers

Here you will find a number of online palliative care and hospice resources for community physicians and health care providers. 

  • Center to Advance Palliative Care - CAPC provides health care professionals with the tools, training and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successful palliative care programs in hospitals and other health care settings. 
  • End of Life / Palliative Care Resource Center - EPERC continues to be a resource to End of Life/Palliative healthcare professionals through support from the Medical College of Wisconsin. 
  • Madison-Deane Initiative - Madison-Deane Initiative, a program of Vermont's Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, has been working to transform end-of-life care since 1997. 
  • American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) - AAHPM is the professional organization for physicians specializing in hospice and palliative medicine.