HOUSTON (February 16, 2015)

In declining health, with difficulty breathing, and enduring a great deal of pain, Bevra Young, a 83-year old, great-grandmother suffering from congestive heart failure, renal disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was about to undergo her third major surgery in a matter of weeks.

With frequent trips to the Emergency Center, her daughter, Kimalee Prewitt, and son, Kent Heard, were distressed and uncertain. One of their mother’s doctors referred them to MemorialHermann Southeast Hospital’s Supportive Medicine Team for help. The team’s clinical staff, social worker, and chaplain assisted Bevra with her pain, symptom management, and health monitoring.

“But more than that, the team gave us options, 24/7 morale support, and advice,” said Kimalee. “We never felt alone; they were there every step of the way; guiding, listening, and caring.”

The aging population in the U.S. has exposed the rising demand for a different kind of health care. In response to this great need, Memorial Hermann Southeast celebrated the official opening of its new Supportive Medicine Outpatient Clinic on Feb. 10.

“Many people say they wish they had known about Supportive Medicine much earlier,” said Stacey Muhammad, MD, Medical Director of Supportive Medicine at Memorial Hermann Southeast. “The new clinic will allow us to provide patients and their families in Southeast Houston with safe, high quality care focused on emotional support, shared decision-making, information about what to expect, and respectful treatment.”

The Supportive Medicine program is unique in that it focuses on providing the appropriate care and counsel to patients and family members where they need it and when they need it. With supportive medicine, patients like Bevra are given choices and alternatives to hospitalization.

Bevra passed away on Jun. 30, 2014, but she died peacefully at home with her family.

“The Supportive Medicine Team was such a blessing,” said Kimalee. “They made an extremely difficult time in our lives bearable.”

“I am very appreciative of Dr. Muhammad and the entire Supportive Medicine team at Memorial Hermann Southeast,” said Lafe Bauer, Director of Supportive Medicine for the Memorial Hermann Physician Network (MHMD). “Memorial Hermann’s Supportive Medicine program is having a significant impact on the quality of care delivered across our Health System.”

The MHMD Supportive Medicine Program offers a specialized medical discipline which provides patients with relief from symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness, no matter the diagnosis or prognosis. Supportive medicine also assists family members to improve quality of life by reducing the physical, social, emotional and spiritual burdens of illness.

Currently, seven Memorial Hermann acute care hospitals offer supportive medicine teams. In addition, patients can now receive outpatient care from our supportive medicine specialists at four community clinics as well as home-based services. Each hospital team has a dedicated palliative medicine board certified physician and a nurse coordinator who work closely with a chaplain and social worker to develop a personalized care plan for each patient.