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A matter of life or death

14-02-2017

Dr Maureen Mitchell large

For Dr Maureen Mitchell, the subject of dying is not unusual.

The Wesley Hospital Palliative Care specialist has daily conversations about death and dying, and she wants you to know it is a conversation you should be having too.

“In this day and age we want control everything about our lives, but we don’t talk about the one thing that is a certainty – death,” Dr Mitchell said.

“It’s important for people to talk about how they’d like to die, so their loved ones can honour those wishes.”

For Dr Mitchell, the job isn’t sombre or depressing – although it can be difficult. For Dr Mitchell, who walks into the Palliative Care Ward with a smile on her face every day, it’s a rewarding job that enables her to help patients live the best life they can while they are able to. 

“The patients we meet are amazing. Some patients and their families have a great sense of humour and an understanding of what is happening. It is a very rewarding job.

“We talk our patients and their loved ones through what is happening and what’s going to happen. Being informed makes it easier for people to accept and can also help the grieving process for loved ones.”

Dr Mitchell said it was important to know that palliative care specialists not only deal with terminal illnesses, but also help to manage the pain and side-effects of treatments – such as chemotherapy and radiation.

 “Our job is to make our patients comfortable and relatively pain-free, so they can live as long as possible.”

The Wesley is one of only a few hospitals in south-east Queensland with a dedicated palliative care unit and skilled team providing holistic care to those with a life-threatening or terminal illness.