National Doctors’ Day is an important day in healthcare as it celebrates the important work physicians do at all levels. For the in-home care community, it’s especially meaningful because the physicians who lead our care teams take on the responsibility of ensuring individuals receive appropriate, meaningful, and timely care.
Dr. David Castellone, a hospice medical director at Intrepid USA Healthcare Services, has been focused on meeting the needs of those in his care for the past 40 years.
“I’ve always taken care of my patients through the end of life, and it’s extremely important for a provider to take the lead and to gently and compassionately help families change their goal of treatment from cure to comfort,” Castellone said. “While what a physician does is take care of people and cure or treat them, there are times when the disease or illness has progressed and when a cure is no longer possible.”
As medical director, Castellone works to help individuals and their families have dignity in the last days, weeks, or months of their life. In his role, he approves admissions to hospice and works to identify the appropriate primary diagnosis under which someone is admitted. He then works to identify and coordinate the medical, nursing, social, spiritual, and caregiving role that an individual and their family may need.
He works with a person’s existing primary care physician as they receive hospice care, however many people choose to have him step into the role of their attending physician.
“They benefit in multiple ways. When a person fails curative treatment, it can be a difficult transition toward palliative and end-of-life care,” Castellone said. “The team is wonderful and together we go to great lengths to help people accept the current status of their loved one and to provide the right emotional, spiritual, and medical support.”
As he strives to provide this essential support and guidance, Castellone is conscious of the importance of being present both physically and mentally for those he serves.
“It’s always been very important to me in my practice to be emotionally invested in all my patients, whether they are on hospice or not,” Castellone said. “I feel my emotional involvement can really help people know that I’m there with them and will help them until the end.”
Although people typically leave his care when they reach the end of their life, Castellone is careful to reassure them that they are working toward life, not death.
“I try to stress that we’re not giving up and that all we’re doing is recognizing that the illness or condition has progressed and that they deserve to have as high a quality of life and as long a life as possible for the remaining time that God has given them,” Castellone said. “Being involved in that care is an incredible privilege that I feel honored to be a part of.”
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