Physical Therapy Provides Relief from Pain for Hospice Patients

May 19, 2011

5/19/2011 - Physical Therapy Provides Relief from Pain for Hospice Patients

An Adventist Health Hospice physical therapist has been named to the “Dream Team” by the Oregon Hospice Association, (OHA). Portland’s only full time hospice physical therapist, Mary-Jean (MJ) Paulitz is the recipient of the state healthcare recognition. The annual award honors the ideal hospice team, which includes a nurse, volunteer, social worker, home health aide, chaplain, bereavement counselor, physician and clinical support staff member.

“MJ is an outstanding example of excellence, compassion and professional care through physical therapy at end of life,” states Carmen Cafferky, Administrative Director of Adventist Health Home Care Services. “As a board certified therapist in geriatric physical therapy, she constantly adapts her expertise to patient as they near the conclusion of their lives. She consistently thinks outside the box in caring for patients in helping find safe solutions so they can continue living in their own homes with grace and dignity.”

“Observing MJ work with patients has made me rethink the role of physical therapy in hospice,” says Dr. William Kennedy, Medical Director of Adventist Health Hospice. “Our Dream Team recipient has moved rehabilitative focus of conventional physical therapy, into the broader question of how to help patients truly live as well as they can, for as long as they can.”

While functional decline is inevitable in hospice, Paulitz work highlights how dedicated physical therapy can alter this rate of decline in dramatic ways. “She applies a comprehensive program to her patients by assessing a complex combination of transfer and ambulation risks and strategies- to create plans of care involving caregiver education, environmental risk reduction and patient exercises,” states Kennedy. This detailed clinical process provides two of the most important outcomes for patients for whom a cure is not an option: a sense of hope and a much greater chance of staying in their current living environment.

“I am humbled and honored to be entrusted to the care of hospice patients,” states Paulitz who received the state recognition a few months ago. “Hospice is not about dying--it’s about living well until you do. I feel so very lucky to work with a dream team of caregivers each day.”

Adventist Health Home Care Division is a service of Adventist Medical Center and provides approximately 3,500 patients with hospice, home health, personal care, home infusion therapy and home medical equipment in the greater Portland community.

“She brings a unique voice to the functional state of patients,” states Cafferky. “Her perspective informs all parts of the care process, from goals of care, to symptom management which continually improves end of life care to Oregonians.”

About Adventist Health Hospice
Adventist Health Hospice, is one of the largest Hospice services in Oregon representing clinical excellence. With the diligent work and care of a multi-disciplinary team, the goal is to control pain and distress while focusing on the emotional, spiritual and social impact of the disease on the patient and the patient's family.

Adventist Medical Center (AMC)
Adventist Medical Center (AMC), located in southeast Portland, is a nonprofit, 302-bed acute care facility, offering a full range of inpatient, outpatient and emergency services throughout the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area. AMC is a member of Adventist Health, headquartered in Roseville, Calif. The organization represents regional delivery networks spanning California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
Adventist Medical Center is part of Adventist Health, a not-for-profit, faith-based health care system operating in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Founded on the Seventh-day Adventist heritage of Christian health care, Adventist Health is comprised of 17 hospitals with more than 2,600 beds, approximately 18,600 employees, numerous clinics and outpatient facilities, the largest system of rural health clinics in California with additional sites in Oregon and Washington, 14 home care agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. For more information, visit or



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