Updated: May 2, 2019
Having had a private practice of her own, one of Dr. Saira Asadullah’s initial impressions of the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis was through the positive feedback of her patients and their families. So when Director of Hospice Care Carol Emmerich, RN, reached out with an offer as a medical director with VNA’s hospice patients, it was an easy decision.
“The organization and the people who work here are extremely friendly, they’re very honest, they’re very hardworking, and those are the qualities I was looking for, and that’s why I decided ‘I want to work with these people.’ ”
Throughout her career in the hospice field, Dr. Asadullah has encountered different types of care providers, but the noticeable difference between VNA’s signature compassionate care and others stood out in her mind. Beyond strictly looking at a patient’s medical history, she was impressed that the VNA staff- from nurses, to social workers to volunteers- take a fuller look at patients’ lives beyond their illness, and into their social lives, their interests and their families. “It’s just a deeper walk,” Dr. Asadullah says in reference to the type of care journey VNA offers patients and their loved ones.
Dr. Asadullah is proud of VNA’s Advanced Illness Management (AIM) program for the hundred of people it has served. For many elderly sick patients and their busy working families families, the AIM program allows them to receive quality care in the comfort of their homes. Though Dr. Asadullah highlights the value of this program, she says, “there may come a point where those diseases aren’t curable and the patient does reach end of life- that’s when the hospice program takes over.”
People have varying (often negative) perceptions of hospice, but one of the most common is that hospice equates to defeat. One thing Dr. Asadullah makes clear is that entering hospice does not necessarily mean “the end,” but rather makes the end of life journey a little easier.
“It’s about providing a different level of comfort and care to the patient and family. We will all eventually die in some way or another- we’re human beings and aren’t designed to live forever. But the goal is that, when a person dies, they die with dignity, comfort, and no pain,” she says.
Watch the interview below to learn more about Dr. Asadullah’s thoughts on the value of VNA’s hospice care.