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Townhall meetings are an important way for elected officials to meet with their constituents to talk about issues in the district, pending legislation or to just enjoy a cup of coffee together. Last Friday I visited with about 20 constituents in Stromsburg at the 4th Street Coffee House. We discussed all aspects of this legislative session and issues that affect my district. While I always appreciate hearing from constituents via letter, phone and email, it is nice to have an in-person conversation and meet face-to-face.
I have scheduled two more townhalls on Friday, March 24th. If you are available, I hope you are able to join me at one of them. At 9am I will be at PERKS (1045 N Main St) in Henderson and at 12pm I will be at the Stromsburg Public Library (320 Central Street). Food is being provided for lunch, so please RSVP by calling the library at 402-764-7681 so there will be enough for everyone.
Last week I shared an update about LB92, my priority bill. This week I wanted to tell you about another piece of legislation I introduced this year – LB323, a bill to create the Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program and the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council.
Palliative care is an approach that improves quality of life for patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illnesses through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and treatment of pain and other problems besides physical, such as psychosocial and spiritual. Integrating palliative care into mainstream medicine for all patients and families facing serious illness offers an essential opportunity to deliver person-centered and family-focused care, achieve better health, better care, and lower cost. Despite the rising amount of evidence showing its benefits, many professionals mistakenly equate palliative care with end of life and hospice. Because of this lack of understanding of what palliative care is and when it should be provided, there are often barriers preventing access to it.
The purpose of this bill is to improve quality, patient-centered and family-focused care in Nebraska. The bill create the Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program, which relates to information sharing about palliative care through the department’s website. It would include: continuing education opportunities for professionals around palliative care, delivery of palliative care in the home, information about best practices, educational materials and referral information. The purpose of the education program is to maximize the effectiveness of palliative care initiatives in the state by ensuring that comprehensive and accurate information is available to the public, healthcare providers, and healthcare facilities.
The second part of the legislation creates the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council. This council brings together health professionals that have palliative care experience and/or experience in palliative care delivery models in a variety of in-patient, outpatient, and community settings with various of populations. The Advisory Council will consult with and advise the Department of Health and Human Services on matters relating to palliative care initiatives, especially the educational components that would go on the website. Significant advances in medicine have meant many of us will live longer and also live better, even in the face of serious illness. Helping patients and their families achieve these dual outcomes, longer life and higher quality of life, is a key objective of palliative care.
As many of you know, my wife is battling pancreatic cancer. I learned about palliative care as we moved forward with her illness and her treatments. Suzanne was placed on palliative care in July of last year. It was an eye-opening experience for us to discover all the ways this service can help us through her journey. I want other families to have the same resources we found, and this bill will go a long way in making sure that happens.
This bill advanced unanimously out of committee and has been placed on General File. I appreciate my colleagues recognizing the benefits of this program.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is email@example.com, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. David and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.