Over the past decades as a physician, I have had the privilege of treating families from all walks of life with their children, friends, and extended families, promoting health and healthy lifestyles. Yet, despite my best efforts, patients often presented with devastating illnesses, debilitating injuries, and unexpected tragedies. As I aged, I began to see older patients with more complex problems and chronic illnesses along with complex family dynamics. All the years of training and experience sometimes were not enough to make them better. But I could always try to alleviate their suffering and be there to provide compassionate care, regardless of the circumstances.
I watched my parents age and gradually lose their health and their independence. Watching my father struggle with Parkinson’s disease and multiple fractures from falls was painful. My mother became less and less coherent due to dementia and multiple infectious processes. I was with each one as they drew their last breath. We can’t prevent our loved ones from dying, but we can choose to make a commitment to care and comfort always, even while grieving.
Shortly afterward, I was given the opportunity to become the medical director for a Christian-based hospice, Oklahoma Palliative & Hospice Care, owned by ethical, conscientious and highly principled individuals. After 5 years I still strive to treat each patient’s situation uniquely remembering that we can always provide compassionate care and alleviate suffering. I am fortunate to work with such a great team of highly qualified, compassionate nurses, caring home health aides with a passion for hospice patients, and dedicated Chaplains, Social Workers, Marketers, Administrators and support staff who are all geared toward meeting the needs of our patients in a caring and compassionate way. They help me make decisions about what medications or treatments or unique care each patient needs depending on their diagnoses, family interactions, level of function, and level of pain. Together we help each patient navigate their individual journey through the dying process, while providing hope that another journey is about to begin.
I view my position as a ministry that focuses on the care and comfort of each patient.
– Peggy Lee Culver Dubois, M.D.