Despite medicine’s decades of advances, human beings in the 21st century still get sick and still feel pain. Fortunately, they also continue to share another profoundly human trait: compassion.
Compassion and science combine in the relatively new subspecialty of palliative care medicine, which aims to reduce pain and suffering and support quality of life during illness.
But the field faces challenges. These form the crux of the upcoming talk “Palliative Care: Challenges for an Emerging Discipline” by Russell Portenoy, M.D., the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman Chair in Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.
Portenoy will deliver the Mark Schaffner Memorial Lecture at City of Hope on Feb. 12 under the auspices of the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, Department of Supportive Care Medicine and the Department of Anesthesiology.
According to Matthew Loscalzo, M.S.W., administrative director of the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, many in health care misunderstand the scope and potential benefits of palliative care medicine.
“Palliative care medicine is more than hospice care,” said Loscalzo, executive director of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine. “It’s about supporting quality of life at all stages of care.”
Currently chair of the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Beth Israel, Portenoy also is president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and a past president of the American Pain Society. He has received numerous honors, including the Wilbert Fordyce Award for Lifetime Excellence in Clinical Investigation.
A neurologist, Portenoy has focused his research on clinical trials of analgesic drugs, symptom measurement and assessment of quality of life. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management and has written, co-authored or edited 17 books and more than 450 papers and book chapters.
The Mark Schaffner Memorial Lecture commemorates the life of Mark J. Schaffner, M.D., former chair of City of Hope’s Department of Anesthesiology, who was known for his deep compassion for patients. He died in January 2003.
The Mark Schaffner Memorial Lecture will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 in Cooper Auditorium. A subsequent discussion will feature Portenoy and Alexandra Levine, M.D., Michael Lew, M.D., and Jay Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., as panelists, with Loscalzo and Selma R. Schimmel as moderators.