Treating the Whole Person Benefits the Whole Family

Julie Heidelberg March 25, 2013 0
Treating the Whole Person Benefits the Whole Family
Dr. Kirksak-Poonkasem, Suncoast Hospice

Dr. Kirksak-Poonkasem, Suncoast Hospice



“Treating the whole person – mind, body & spirit is important for both the patient and the family.”

– Dr. Jay Poonkasem






At our Suncoast Hospice Care Center in Palm Harbor, I have the privilege to be part of a team that oversees the care and management of patients. The inpatient care center is primarily available to hospice patients who need acute pain and symptom management. Symptoms are generally severe enough that they cannot be addressed in the home setting.  For example, intractable nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme pain, restlessness and agitation are common symptoms that we see in the care center.

I treat and care for patients utilizing conventional medicine and prescriptions, but many of the tools I use to treat patients at the care center are not explored in traditional care settings. I utilize other integrative therapies such as acupuncture, cupping, massage, energy medicine and breath-work.  Being able to integrate these other modalities into conventional medical treatments enables us to more effectively care for our patients from a whole perspective.

The whole perspective doesn’t just include medical treatments. Many symptoms that the patients exhibit may be due to their physical disease process, but they can also be due to the psychosocial aspects that come along with terminal illnesses.  The conventional medicines like morphine may be appropriate use for physical pain issues, but when the patient has emotional pain or spiritual pain, it is important to utilize the interdisciplinary team approach and allow other care team members to help in this vital healing process.

Through our interdisciplinary care team approach, our patients not only see a physician and a nurse for pain management for physical symptoms but they also have the option of speaking with a licensed clinic social worker, a chaplain and even a volunteer to help soothe emotional or spiritual pain.  The teams are also available to support family members and caregivers as well.

Suncoast Hospice Care Centers are designed to get a patients’ pain and symptoms under control in situations that the home setting or facility setting is not equipped to handle effectively.  There are misconceptions that the care centers (or inpatient facilities) are only for patients who are actively dying.  This is simply not the case.  A lot of our patients come in for acute symptom management and then they are discharged back home or to the facility of their choice once their symptoms are controlled.

At some point we will all know someone who could benefit from hospice care — whether it’s a patient, caregiver or both. Do you have questions about our care centers, integrative medicine or hospice care? If so, please join us on March 28th from Noon -12:30pm on Facebook, where I will answer your questions. We hope that you will join us to learn more about the programs and services of Suncoast Hospice. To participate in the Q&A session please visit to find out more.

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