BILLINGS – Palliative care helps patients with pain and suffering.
The very first Big Sky Palliative Conference brought together those helping with this care at the Northern Hotel on Friday and Saturday.
The field has a physician shortage and the conference helps with some of the learning in the field, according to Dr. Katherine Dietrich, medical director for palliative services at St. Vincent and associate medical director for Hospice Compassus Billings.
Palliative is different than hospice, which helps patients in the last six months of life.
Palliative care can be given anytime during an illness.
Dietrich said palliative care has been recognized as a specialty for about 10 to 15 years and it’s a rewarding field.
“It’s fantastic,” said Dietrich. “To be able to give pain relief, nausea relief like symptom relief for people who are suffering. We have a lot of people with terminal cancers and they’re going through horrible procedures. To be able to give them relief is wonderful.”
St. Vincent Healthcare hosted the conference.
Next year’s Big Sky Palliative Conference will be in Bozeman.