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Letter: Utah needs better palliative care

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I am an area director in Eagle Mountain and I am concerned about the lack of access to palliative care for the seriously ill in Utah.

Many of our neighbors suffer from illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and COPD that would be improved with access to the interdisciplinary approach to illness management that palliative care provides. Indeed, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Americans living in rural areas are more likely to die from the five leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke) than their urban counterparts.

Could this be because they lack access to the types of care-coordination and symptom-mitigation services that palliative care provides in richer, more urban settings? Our state and our neighbors deserve access to palliative care to help them manage their chronic and serious illnesses, and so I urge our senators to cosponsor the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (S2080), a bill in the U.S. Congress that would increase access to palliative care through training, workforce support and provider incentives to provide care.

Palliative care helps patients coping with chronic and serious illness manage their symptoms, avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and retain quality of life. Isn’t that something we can all support?

Stephanie Puffer

Eagle Mountain