Palliative care piece launches embedded dispatches

Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Michael Vitez has been embedded with Abington Memorial Hospital in suburban Montgomery County, Pa. Karl Stark, the Inquirer‘s health and science editor, writes that “means he went there for an extended period and reported what he saw with almost no restrictions.”

Here’s how Vitez describes the series, which will be published over the next few months:

My goal is to spend a year at Abington, writing stories that show how one hospital deals with the biggest issues in health care today and also the changes that are coming fast and furious – regardless of what Congress and the President do – to hospitals and health care.

This first story looks at how the palliative care movement is medicine’s response to the dismal way people have died. I try to show, up close, how the team works, the agony that families feel, the immense costs involved.

In future stories, I’m going to look at how a hospital struggles to bring down infection rates, how it handles patients who have nowhere to go, the madness of one Medicare rule, the impact of the uninsured, and more. I hope in the end readers will get a bedside view of how things work, how things are changing, and I hope a great appreciation for our common humanity.

Vitez’s first report is a very readable and nuanced account of palliative care, something he looks at from the perspective of a patient’s family as well as that of the medical professionals.

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