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Award for inspirational holistic care

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Award for inspirational holistic care

The special team at Sunshine Hospital that provides holistic care to patients and their families during their end-of-life journey has been singled out of excellence. 

Dr Maria Coperchini, the Head of Unit at Sunshine Hospital Palliative Care Unit, and her dedicated team of nurses, doctors, allied health professionals and support staff have received one of Western Health's highest honours. 

Dr Coperchini and the team was awarded the Western Health Board Chair Medal at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday. 

Their inspirational clinical care, which supports patients and families during some of the most difficult periods of their life, was highlighted by a patient who provided feedback about their recent experience. 

The patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes how her father was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease in October 2020.

He was given only a few weeks to live. 

Living in the country with minimal support, he was sent to nursing home to die, at age 70. 

 "I knew my dad didn't have a long time, but I wanted the time he did have to be memorable with improved quality," the patient's daughter said. 

She arranged for him to come to metropolitan Melbourne where they sought the assistance of the Palliative Care Consultants at Western Health. 

The team expertly managed his symptoms and pain, giving him back independence and control to the point that he could join the family for Christmas Day. 

Her father decided he wanted to die in his hometown, so, with the assistance of Dr Coperchini and her team, he returned to the country.  

He died on January 31, 2021. 

"Instead of weeks, I got four months of memories with my dad that I will cherish forever," the patient's daughter wrote. 

"I can't describe my gratitude for Dr. Coperchini and the team. 

"They gave me extra time with my dad I would never have gotten if he had stayed where he was. 

"He would not have experienced the love of his family, nor got to say goodbye the way he wanted to, if it wasn't for their respect, compassion, and excellence in palliative care support. 

"It is so much more than dying; it's holistic care that is so often underestimated." 

This single experience exemplifies the daily work of the Palliative Care team, who provide expert clinical care and work with families to ensure they feel supported during a difficult time. 

Western Health Board Chair Robyn Batten said the Western Health Inspire Awards recognise employees and volunteers, individuals and teams whose actions inspire others to live our values: compassion, accountability, respect, excellence and safety. 

Recipients of the category called Inspirational Stories are considered for the Western Health Board Chair Medal. 

This year the other nominees were: the Environmental Services Waste Teams at Footscray, Sunshine and Williamstown hospitals and Dr Linda Appiah Kubi, Consultant Geriatrician/Director of Training. 

 "Since 2018, the Western Health Board Chair has been awarding this special medal to one of the year's most inspirational recipients," Ms Batten said. 

"The contributions and behaviours of our 2022 award winners are quite remarkable and all three finalists are absolutely deserving of the Medal this year." 

Ms Batten thanked Dr Coperchini and her team for their efforts to provide patients and their family with best care. 

Dr Coperchini accepted the award with Amabelle Sanchez, the Associate Nurse Unit Manager at the Sunshine Hospital Palliative Care Unit. 

"We are really thrilled to be able to accept this award on behalf of the whole Palliative Care team who work tirelessly day in and day out putting our patients at the centre of our care," Dr Coperchini said. 

If you'd like to hear more about 2022, including Western Health Chief Executive Adjunct Professor Russell Harrison's vision for the future, watch the AGM online: