Berlin, VT – At a ceremony held July 20, Judy Tartaglia, University of Vermont Health Network - Central Vermont Medical Center chief executive officer, dedicated the hospital’s new palliative care suite, the “Sun Room,” to Dr. Marilyn Hart and Dr. John Valentine for their compassionate efforts to enhance the hospital’s end of life care. Made possible through a generous donation from Lynne and Don Carpenter, the suite offers a light-filled sunroom, gathering area and kitchenette for seriously-ill patients and their families.
“We are grateful for the vision of Lynne and Don Carpenter and Drs. Hart and Valentine, whose commitment to the development of the Palliative Care program gave it wings,” said Tartaglia. “This room is a true gift for our community. The beauty and privacy of the space adds physical and emotional comfort for patients and their families at a time when they need it most.”
Lynne and Don Carpenter are long-time supporters of UVM Health Network - CVMC. Lynne worked as a nurse, educator and nurse manager at the hospital for 27 years and Don served on the Board of Directors for 14 years.
The “Sun Room” dedication to Dr. Hart and Dr. Valentine honors their commitment to enriching end of life experiences for patients and families. In the early years, the physicians, along with Roseanne Palmer, Linda Piatrowski and Diana Pierce (from Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice), formed a team to be available for physicians to order palliative care consults. They took on the difficult conversations surrounding end of life care, including pain management and comfort measures. They also created a hospital-wide multidisciplinary palliative care committee to address all patient care, medical and personal needs.
Through this work the team became regional and national leaders in bringing together the collaborative comradery between outpatient hospice nursing and inpatient nursing teams; developing a palliative care nursing model rather than a traditional medical model; providing education to care providers around the region; providing coverage for consults; developing and disseminating best practice protocols; creating support for a full time interfaith Chaplin; enlisting volunteers to craft handmade comfort shawls; and most importantly, improving the patient and family experience so that their final journey was one of peace and comfort.
“While we knew that the ultimate outcome, death, could not be changed, we could certainly impact the journey,” said Palmer. “So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work…Under John and Marilyn’s guidance, we were able to take what started as an improvement project without a budget, without staff and without space, and build a palliative service that would become exemplar in the region.”
Two comfort carts were their first effort to make the hospital environment less sterile. Then, with the proceeds from CVMC’s first benefit golf tournament, the current room was changed into the hospital’s first designated palliative care room. The room created a more homelike environment for patients and families.
“It was always a dream to enlarge the room with an atrium and add more space for families,” said Lynne. “Thanks to many helpful hands, that dream is now a reality.”
Today, the UVM Health Network - CVMC palliative care program includes a team of three interdisciplinary practitioners (a part time chaplain, palliative care nurse, and palliative care physician), which offer physician-led consults for patients and families from Monday through Friday, and provide hospital-based care emphasizing excellent symptom management, as well as care for the emotional and spiritual needs of patients around their serious illness. Their work includes teaching in the hospital, and in the community.
"We have an incredible foundation for compassionate palliative and spiritual care at CVMC, embodied in the pioneering work of Lynne Carpenter, Marilyn Hart, John Valentine, Linda Piatrowski, and others. What an honor it is to follow in their footsteps,” said Dr. Jonna Goulding, medical director of palliative care. “Nothing expresses gratitude for excellent palliative care at CVMC like the patients and families who stay in the Sun Room, our beautiful palliative care suite. Families tell us daily of their appreciation for the skilled and kind nursing care they receive, and the calm and comfortable environment in which they receive that care. The Sun Room embodies the generosity of our pioneers and benefactors, who continue to teach, and reach out, to patients and families in our community, who are going through one of the most challenging stages of life."
About UVM Health Network - CVMC: University of Vermont Health Network - Central Vermont Medical Center is a 122-bed community hospital providing advanced care to the 66,000 people who live and work in central Vermont. We are part of the University of Vermont Health Network, a five-hospital system serving the residents of Vt. and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives. Our partners are: The University of Vermont Medical Center , UVM Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, UVM Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital, UVM Health Network - Alice Hyde Medical Center