Published on February 01, 2012

Baptist Memorial Health Care Names System Director for Advance Care Planning/Palliative Care

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Baptist Memorial Health Care recently named Jeri Ashley as the system director for advance care planning/palliative care.

The newly created position is being funded by a Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation grant awarded to Baptist Trinity Hospice.

Advance care planning provides an avenue for patients to create a life plan that informs physicians and family members about how the individual wishes to live if diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. All Baptist patients and employees will be offered this service, which allows them the opportunity to have meaningful discussions about their wishes, thus taking the burden of worrisome decisions off loved ones.

Palliative care is often thought of as end-of-life care. However, it is defined as specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses and is not always about end of life. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness—regardless of the diagnosis or prognosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for the patient and the family early in the disease process so the focus of care shifts to helping patients live each moment to the fullest.

“At Baptist, we believe the voice of the patient should always be heard the loudest. That means families and patients need appropriate information and guidance to make informed decisions,” said Zach Chandler, vice president and metro market leader for Baptist. “Our focus for the future is highly integrated patient and family-centered care, and creating this position will help educate patients and families and facilitate open dialogue about how individuals wish to live their lives.”

In her new role, Ashley will work with the Baptist system’s 14 hospitals, clinics, and home health/hospices to collaborate and provide ongoing education and training in advance care planning, palliative care and pain/symptom management. Where appropriate, she will assist hospitals to establish a multidisciplinary palliative care program to better care for patients. 
From 1992 to 1997, Ashley worked for Baptist in various roles including home care nursing, high-tech infusion nurse, unit supervisor and staff development coordinator. After leaving Baptist, she worked as an oncology clinical nurse specialist and then an oncology advance practice nurse, focusing her practice on educating patients on palliative care and options for end-of-life care when cure was no longer possible.

“We are thrilled to have Jeri back as part of our team,” said Nancy Averwater, CEO and administrator of Baptist Trinity Hospice. “With her wide breadth of experience at Baptist and elsewhere, she brings the clinical skills, expertise and compassion needed to increase the collective body of knowledge and skill level among clinicians systemwide regarding palliative care.”
Baptist Trinity Hospice provides care and services to the terminally ill and their family members. Although cancer remains one of the primary diagnoses for hospice patients, others with life-limiting illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and congestive heart failure, also receive care in the program.

In December 2010, Baptist Trinity Hospice opened the area’s first residential hospice, Baptist Trinity Hospice House. Located next to the Hospice House is the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief, which provides comprehensive bereavement services to the entire community, including camps, seminars and individual counseling—free of charge.

For more information about Baptist Trinity Hospice, please call 901-767-6767.

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