Patients Dying Fast, and Far from Family, Challenge Practice of Palliative Care

May 6, 2020

(NPR) – Owens, like other palliative care specialists in COVID-19 hot spots around the country, has seen his professional duties transformed by the deadly virus. Patients and their families face abrupt decisions about the kind of care they want, and time for sensitive deliberation is scarce. Conversations once held in-person are now over the phone, with all the nuances of nonverbal communication lost. The comfort of family at the bedside of the dying is all but gone. This is the new reality for those who practice palliative medicine — a speciality focused on relieving pain and symptoms, improving quality of life, and providing support to patients and families during severe, chronic or fatal illness.