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A patient's hope

April 24, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

There's hope for a cure, and then there's hope to live without pain.

These different kinds of hope will be a major topic of discussion Thursday, April 27, at Robinwood Medical Center as part of Hope: The Heart & Soul of Healing, a spirituality and medicine conference.

More than 200 health-care and spiritual-care professionals, including doctors, nurses, chaplains and clergy, from several states are expected to attend the conference sponsored by Washington County Hospital.

They will hear about scientific and anecdotal evidence concerning the impact of hope in medical outcomes; research the role of professionals in hope and health care; the importance of patients acknowledging their inner strength; and treatment approaches which can affect patients' hope.

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There are two kinds of hope - grounded hope and fixated hope, says the Rev. Cherie Baker, director of spiritual care and religious services for Washington County Hospital.

For a terminally ill patient, fixated hope could be focusing on hoping for a cure, whereas grounded hope would be hoping for something larger than a solution, Baker says.

That something larger could be hoping for support, to not suffer, to not die alone, to not be a burden, to be remembered or to find continuing meaning and joy in the time left, say Baker and Dr. Richard Payne, director of Duke University's Institute on Care at the End of Life.

Payne will speak at the conference about how true hope lies not necessarily in a way out, but in understanding a way through the patient's journey.

"We can still help patients and be truthful and respectful and maintain their dignity by allowing them to see that they can still have hope by reframing how they think about hope as they are dying," Payne says.

At the hospital, health-care professionals will try to get on the same page regarding how to help a person who is chronically ill or nearing death, says Cindy Earle, the hospital's community health education coordinator.

That discussion includes talking about hope, Earle says.

"What we found is that one of the richest resources for healing is hope," Earle says.

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