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The Pandemic and Palliative Care

Health-care workers are trained how to address medical issues, but often they are less equipped to deal with the emotional challenges faced by people with serious illness. Learning how to incorporate quality of life concerns into medical care benefits patients and can help prevent burnout among staff.

KYIV – When COVID-19 hit Ukraine, infectious diseases specialist Stepan Karabinyosh was at the center of the crisis. As he worked day after day in an intensive care unit, Karabinyosh found that his medical training had prepared him for the practical challenge of treating his patients, but not the emotional challenge of telling a growing number of them that, because of the risk of infecting their loved ones, they would most likely die without seeing them again.

But Karabinyosh was equipped for this experience better than many of his colleagues. He had taken additional training in palliative care – a multidisciplinary approach to optimizing patient quality of life during severe and terminal illness.

Karabinyosh learned about the need for instruction in palliative care the hard way. Early in his career, he felt overwhelmed by the burden of dealing with seriously ill patients. Despite having little time to eat, he put on weight. He stopped talking to friends and family and did nothing but work and sleep.

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