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Interlake-Eastern RHA Palliative Care Program Continues to Evolve


Interlake-Eastern RHA’s Palliative Care program is continuing to evolve with the establishment of psychosocial support and grief counseling to palliative care clients, their families and caregivers across the region.


Vera Appleyard has recently been hired to provide psychosocial support to people in the palliative care program on the west side of the Interlake-Eastern RHA. For 13 years, Appleyard worked as the palliative care coordinator under the direction of the SouthWest District Palliative Care Board in conjunction with the regional health authority. In this role she supported palliative care volunteers and provided psychosocial and spiritual support to palliative clients, families and caregivers as well as bereavement support. She was one of the original organizers of Camp Stepping Stones, an annual, volunteer run weekend camp for grieving children ages seven to 17. She is currently transitioning from her old role to her new role and working with the palliative care team to ensure that patients are connected with the services they need.


“In the years that I’ve worked in palliative care, I know how important it is to have time to listen and talk with people who are experiencing a life limiting illness,” Appleyard said. “There are a number of resources available to provide assistance to people and their families in the palliative care program. I’m looking forward to focusing on providing support in these ways.”


The region’s existing palliative care boards and committees contributing to palliative care work in the areas surrounding Stonewall, Selkirk, Gimli and north on Hwy. 6, will continue their grassroots based fundraising efforts and direct dollars raised as they feel appropriate to complement the RHA’s palliative care program. According to Chuck McCLure, treasurer of the South West District Palliative Care board, the board will continue to raise funds to complement palliative care services in the rural municipalities of Armstrong, Rockwood, Rosser, Woodlands and communities of St. Laurent, Stonewall and Teulon.


“When the RHA spoke with us about changing the palliative care program, we identified that we wanted to focus on fundraising to enhance palliative care services. We regard the implementation of the regional palliative care program as a positive transition,” McCLure said. He added that the board is continuing its fundraising efforts, like the upcoming 8th Annual Fall Gala Dinner and Dance on October 26 at the Stonewall Legion, and still looking for volunteers to assist with other fundraising efforts. People interested in volunteering to support palliative care services can contact SouthWest District Palliative Care Inc. at 204.467.7118 or 204.467.2632


For 12 years, Susan Barnett has been providing psychosocial palliative care support to people in the east side of the Interlake-Eastern RHA. Like Appleyard, she works with people in their homes or in hospital or personal care homes. Community response to Barnett’s work reinforced the need for psychosocial palliative care to be available across the region.


Also on the region’s palliative care team are two nurses who are already working on the east and west side of the region. These nurses receive referrals to the palliative program from family physicians or through other programs such as CancerCare or home care. They ensure clients are enrolled to benefit from the provincial drug program. If a client is at home and requiring support services, palliative care nurses will send referrals to home care. Palliative care nurses will visit clients in home, or in long-term care or acute care facilities if they require pain management or management of physical symptoms related to their illness.

Tammie-Lee Rogowski, a certified hospice palliative care nurse and a certified community health nurse, manages the region's palliative care staff along with nursing services provided through the home care services. She indicates the palliative care program will shortly be adding a volunteer coordinator to the team. This individual will focus on recruiting, training and supporting volunteers throughout the region and working with community groups and boards on further developing a palliative care volunteer base.


“Community members, who are passionate about palliative care, have given us guidance in developing a regional program that better integrates all of the palliative care resources we offer individuals and their families,” Rogowski said. “We’re striving for seamless service delivery to benefit those in need of our services.”


Questions and concerns regarding the region’s palliative care program can be directed to Tammie-Lee Rogowski at 204-467-3361,


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