BROOKLYN, NY – In an attempt to preserve supplies and not dole them out like Halloween candy, a palliative care team at Maimonides Medical Center has offered a patient and his family their thoughts or prayers but not both.
“It’s not that we think of patients, their families, or their friends any less than before, it’s just you devalue thoughts and prayers if you keep handing them out willy-nilly,” explained Dr. Donna Urban, the physician on the palliative care team. “One reason the opioid epidemic came to be is because we were doling those out with indiscretion. Same concept applies here. So rather than putting them at risk of polysympathy, we’d rather focus on only one form of compassion.”
Historically, it was considered appropriate to offer someone undergoing difficult times or dealing with misfortune your thoughts and prayers, and ideally give them in a balanced one-to-one ratio. Urban and his team are rethinking things and questioning whether these things necessarily have to go hand-in-hand.
“In this particular case, I strongly urged the family to consider accepting our prayers since we didn’t have many thoughts left,” said Roger Mayer, a member of pastoral care on the team. “In fact, we had only two thoughts during our several family meetings together: DNR and hospice.”
In related news, the palliative care team has deferred two late consults until tomorrow morning since they are out of both thoughts and prayers, and closing up for the day. Both should be restocked by 9 AM tomorrow.