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Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Program

Sansum Clinic’s Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Program will enable us to enhance the quality of life for our patients who are being treated for a serious illness.  

The Palliative Care Team, under the leadership of Dr. Deborah S. Meyers, works to address patients’ physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs to insure they properly understand their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.  An individualized patient care plan will alleviate suffering and provide an extra layer of support for patients and their families. 

The Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Program is a multidisciplinary program that “touches” all departments within Sansum Clinic and the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center.  

Advance Care Planning is an integral part of the program with a goal of aligning medical care with the individual patient’s preferences – “that people get the care they need and no less, and the care they want and no more”. A social worker will be a certified ACP provider and will incorporate advance care planning, as well as completion of advance directives, and if appropriate, POLST documentation, as part of the program.

The Palliative Care Team will thoroughly address the patients’ pain and comfort care issues. They will engage patients in a meaningful discussion about healthcare goals and preferences, including advance care planning and end of life goals and ensure patients have appropriate/early access to hospice and other critical patient-oriented programs as their disease progresses. They will also coordinate with primary care and other specialists and care providers who are part of the patient’s medical team.

The primary services will be provided within Sansum Clinic’s Ridley-Tree Cancer Center and extend to patients homes, hospital, skilled nursing facilities, and other Sansum Clinic locations, following the patient wherever they may need care.  

The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center cares for approximately 75-80% of the oncology patients in the Santa Barbara area.  Sansum Clinic cares for a large number of the pulmonary, cardiology, rheumatology and neurology patients in the community. We anticipate that approximately 60% of the program will serve patients with cancer, and approximately 40% of the program with serve patients with other diagnoses: neurological conditions such as ALS and dementia; and patients with cardiac, respiratory, kidney, liver or other organ dysfunction or failure such as congestive heart failure, COPD or end-stage renal disease.    

Evidence from multiple large clinical trials shows early palliative care improves the quality of life (enhanced pain and symptom control), reduces depression and improves satisfaction with care. For hospitalized patients, palliative care reduces the length of stay, the number and duration of ICU stays, readmission rates and emergency room use. The program increases use and length of stay in hospice. For patients near the end of life, palliative care reduces the use of invasive and aggressive treatments and increases enrollment and length of stay in hospice, while actually improving survival.  

By engaging patients early in the disease course, clinic based Palliative Care services support patients, over time, in achieving maximum symptom control and in making informed choices about which health services they wish to utilize and in which settings. Studies have shown that patients who receive early, clinic based palliative care often consume fewer and more appropriate health care services and indicate greater satisfaction with their care, compared to patients who receive no palliative care. 

Dr. Meyers is passionate about caring for patients who are suffering with serious, life limiting illness and has a history of leadership of and experience with palliative and hospice care programs. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and in Hospice and Palliative Care. She was the founder of the Palliative Care Program at The Everett Clinic in Everett, WA. She has a BA, BS and Medicine Doctorate from the University of Washington and her General Medicine Residency was at Virginia Mason Medical Center.  

The Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Program is generously funded through philanthropic support from  major donors: J.S. Bower Foundation, William Williams, Natalie Orfalea Foundation and Lou Buglioli, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, Benjamin Wayne and Valerie Mizuhara, Warren and Mary Lynn Staley and Hollye and Jeff Jacobs.   

To schedule an appointment with the Palliative Care Department please call 805-879-0675.  

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