Doctors collaborate on end-of-life care initiative

Dr. David West
Dr. David West

A group of physicians in Mesa County has joined in a collaborative effort to develop and implement new approaches to end-of-life care.

The more than 300 members of the Mesa County Physician Independent Practice Association are working on the initiative with Dr. David West, vice president of medical affairs at HopeWest, a hospice and palliative care organization based in Grand Junction. The goal is to help physicians gain the skills they need to talk to, educate and guide patients and their families to direct the care they desire.

“With nearly all physicians in Mesa County learning and working together, we hope this educational program will transform care and enhance the quality of life for our community,” West said. “We have a history of working together, and we hope these combined efforts will create even better care for patients and their families facing serious illness.”

West approached the group with the idea for a partnership to provide education on end-of-life care. West said he was inspired by his experiences at HopeWest and presentations by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and author of “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.”

West led a presentation on the issues involved in coordinating care for seriously ill patients. Participating doctors also received copies of “Being Mortal.”

Physicians have created plans to ensure they’re completing advance directives for patients with serious illnesses. They’re also meeting in groups to discuss “Being Mortal” and plan to meet in the fall to learn more about palliative care.

Physicians expect to engage in-depth doctor-to-patient conversations about end-of-life care, assist patients with completing advance directives and introduce palliative care practices earlier for patients with  serious illnesses.