What They’re Watching: Jeannette Koijane

Jeannette Koijane is the Executive Director of Kokua Mau Inc., a resource for information on advance care planning, hospice, and palliative care. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the importance of palliative care. These remarks were recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic during our previous convening.


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“So, Kokua Mau is a network of organizations and individuals that’s really striving to improve care for people with serious illness and their loved ones. So, we look at: how are we building a continuum of care? What are the opportunities that are out there? We have a lot of aging people in our community; we also have a lot of serious illness. And this is really a crucial thing in our community of how we are helping people along the journey to get good information, good resources, and have good conversation.

So, I think there’s a lot of really interesting, exciting opportunities right now around palliative care. A lot of people don’t understand that palliative care is really seen as best practice for improving quality of life for people with serious illness. And you can still get curative treatments while you’re in palliative care, and so you don’t necessarily need a terrible choice. You can continue to get the best care possible, but you get this extra layer of support and another team that comes in.

So, the Department of Health and the state of Hawaii really has recognized the importance of palliative care and there’s a couple of really interesting initiatives including a palliative care summit [that happened] in April. We also are looking at an education project around palliative care for both the public and providers because people tend to misunderstand what palliative care is, so we need to re-educate people. And then looking, for instance, at how do we increase the access to palliative care? So, we’re really hoping that more health plans will step up. There’s a Med-QUEST initiative to build a palliative care program. So, there’s a lot of things around the organizing principle of palliative care. Recognizing that people really need support, their loved ones need support, but there are professionals out there that can help. I think, you know, for me it’s always so tragic when people say, ‘Oh I didn’t know about that. My loved one was in the hospital and I didn’t know to ask for a palliative care consult.’ We have to get people aware of what it is, the resource, and to take advantage of it.”