How palliative care helps people like Dino live their best life


Dino, center, along with Lynn Koblewski (left) and Krin Kramer (right).

“The first person I met was Krin. She had the time to listen to me.” That’s Rodine “Dino” Retting, talking about Krin Kramer, a member of Dino’s palliative care team. “She became an advocate – and fought for me.”

Dino has COPD, and at first, she didn’t understand how serious her lung disease was – that it was chronic medical condition and wasn’t going to get better. Her palliative care team helped her truly understand this, as well as how to manage her symptoms in a way that would help her have the best quality of life.

What is Palliative Care?

Many people confuse palliative care with hospice care. Dino did at first. “My first thought was, ‘am I dying?’” But palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Palliative care manages the needs and goals of those living with chronic or serious illnesses at the time of diagnoses. By providing an added layer of support based on the understanding of the patient as a whole, not a disease or a symptom, the palliative care team helps patients and their family achieve their very best quality of life every day in a patient centric, family engaged care plan.

Lynn Koblewski, a nurse practitioner on Dino’s team, was one of the people who helped her understand this on a number of different levels.  “One of Dino’s goals, ultimately, was not to suffer, now or later,” Lynn explained. “So the team talked to her about diet, managing anxiety and pain, home care, and rehab among a number of other goals of care.”

 “It’s nice to have a smile and open arms”  

Dino’s lung disease is advanced enough that she can’t always get out every day. She admits it’s nice to have people over to the house when she and her palliative care team can talk about more than clinical issues.

“Lynn came over and reviewed all of my medicine with me. She’s like a doctor, she listened and talked to me about my lousy diet, about what I was afraid of, so my daughter doesn’t have to deal with it and spent an hour and half just talking about life and what mattered to me.”

Dino’s team helps to keep her connected to other support resources, too, such as the COPD support group she attends once a month at Aurora Medical Center in Washington County, and integrative care services that help improve her quality of life.

What matters most

Each patient is a person. Each person is an individual deserving of genuine care, no matter what stage of life they’re in, or how they got there. “I am being a bull about my lifestyle choices – and I know I’m being a bull about it,” smiles Dino. And that’s OK for Dino’s palliative care team because it’s her care plan.

Dino, a woman whose voice can fill the room, sat quiet for a moment. Then she said, simply: “People in this field…they care about you. And they go the extra distance to advocate for you.”

Thrive 368x269You can help people like Dino when you support Thrive event April 28, benefiting the palliative care services and initiatives available to patients at Aurora Medical Center in Washington County. You can learn more, purchase tickets and donate when you CLICK HERE.

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