About Palliative Care

What is the Palliative Care Institute?

The Palliative Care Institute at Western Washington University is a partnership with Northwest Life Passages Coalition and other community agencies and volunteers to transform palliative care in Whatcom County and support our human responses to living and dying. Our goal is to create a healing community by providing a space where people living with serious illnesses or facing the end of life don’t have to be cured to heal. We build on collaborations among those both inside and outside of the medical industry, reclaiming palliative care as a community responsibility.

Our goals are community activation, provider training, and resource development:

  • Leading conversations in our community about the redefinition of ‘health’ and the dimensions a truly palliative and caring community requires.
  • Exploring how our cultural identities and belief systems influence how we interact and engage with the patients and families we serve, how these elements impact family decision making when facing serious illness or death or after death care, and ways that inequity impacts palliative care patients and learn how to promote health equity in our teams or at the institutional level.
  • Providing cultural activities to normalize conversations about serious illness and death and dying.

  • Linking carepartners and patients needing palliative care to appropriate resources. 
  • Offering a series of workshops and conferences to alternative and allopathic health providers focused on training and community transformation about palliative and end of life care.

What does 'Palliative Care' mean?

In this clip from the podcast On Being: A Midwife to the Dying, Joan Halifax discusses the elements of palliative care. 

“We have a new discipline in medicine called palliative care, which is how we take care of people at the end of their lives so as to relieve the symptoms that go along with the experience of dying, something that was not taught in medical schools until very recently. And now, we have these wonderful palliative care physicians coming into our trainings who have left internal medicine or family medicine in order to work more specifically in the area of the care of the dying, realizing that it is such a privilege. Not to cure, in the conventional sense of curing, but to give deep care through modern pharmacology and through alternative and complementary approaches and, as well, through presence and compassion. And [care] not only to the dying individual but in a team approach working with the community and the family system as well.”

What does 'Heal without Cure' mean?

In this clip from the podcast Living While Dying, Bruce Kramer explains how he understands what it means to heal as he negotiates ALS, a disease for which there is no cure.

Two hands clasp another hand with a medical bracelet