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A Revolution in How Doctors Speak to Critically Ill Patients Meets COVID-19 (Wallace Robinson, PHC)

‘This conversation changes everything for the better,’ says advocate Karen Sanderson, shown with Wallace Robinson who helped develop the ‘Guide for Serious Illness Conversations with Hospitalized High-risk COVID-19 Patients.’ (The photo was taken before the pandemic made social distancing a fact of life.) (Photo credit: The

A Vancouver team’s guide ‘puts the patient and the family at the centre of the conversation.’

Several years ago a team of people at Providence Health Care in Vancouver, inspired by the work of a famous author and doctor, decided to rethink how to speak with patients and their loved ones when the person’s odds of living much longer were low.

The aim was to educate doctors on how to listen closely to what patients most feared and desired in their final days, and then how to plan together the next steps.

Wallace Robinson, the advance care planning lead at Providence Health who helped create the guide, says it “is continuing the type of conversation that we’ve been advocating for, that puts the patient and the family at the centre of the conversation.”

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