From the Chief Physician Officer: The value of serious illness conversations

Dear clinicians,

First, please allow me to express my deepest gratitude for your commitment toward providing exceptional care for your patients during these very challenging times.

The most recent surge in COVID-19 cases demands that we conduct serious illness conversations with our patients and, sometimes, their families to better understand their wishes, priorities and goals for care. I am most appreciative to those of you who have devoted the necessary time to further develop your skills through the structured serious illness conversation training program we offer.

During this pandemic especially, please be even more mindful of those patients who may benefit from having such a conversation. By documenting each one in the EMR, others across the care continuum will benefit by better understanding the specific goals and wishes of your patients.

I’m grateful for those of you who routinely utilize these conversations to help inform your treatment plans. Your patients deserve nothing less, especially as COVID-19 can quickly cause such serious illness in patients of all ages. I want to encourage others to please consider conducting these conversations whenever they are appropriate. If each of you completed and documented just one serious illness conversation each month, there would be well over 400 patients who would benefit by the end of this year.

Thank you for your continued support of this important work. I hope every seriously ill patients in our care will have more, earlier and better conversations with their providers, outlining their goals, values and priorities. As a result, we will honor that which is most important to those we serve.


Chris McLain, M.D.
Senior Vice President and Chief Physician Officer
Roper St. Francis Healthcare

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