Let's Talk Pain - Clinical Impact Symposium 2016

By Maggie Cunningham

Steve Buttleman bugler
Kindred Healthcare’s 2016 Annual Clinical Impact Symposium kicked off on Tuesday, November 8. And in true Kentucky fashion, Steve Buttleman, the official bugler of Churchill Downs, played “My Old Kentucky Home” and the “call to the post” that is most often associated with the Kentucky Derby.

Afterward, Buttleman added, “Use this call-to-the-post to get out of the gates when you get back home like they do at the Derby. How you start the race is often a determination of the final results.”

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Next, Tony Disser, Vice President of Clinical Operations, explained why, when they first began to formulate the symposium eight years ago, they decided to name it the Clinical IMPACT Symposium.

“We want you to go home and IMPACT your world immediately,” Disser said. “It can be hard to translate everything back at home, so take this and go back home and implement it.”

Before introducing Patti Bischof, Senior Director of Education and Training in the Hospital Division, Disser asked the audience to use the hashtag #CIS2016 on Twitter so that those not in attendance are still able to engage in the conversations. He also explained that the assigned seats of the attendees has more to do with engagement than organization.

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“You are sitting in virtual interdisciplinary teams,” explained Disser. “This is an opportunity to simulate the true experience of pain management as a team.”

Next, Bischoff reminded the audience that the symposium is offering continuing education hours and said that directions for receiving them can be found on the CIS website.

Then it was back to Disser, who said, “Let’s talk pain.”  Using a video of Kindred clinicians in the field, he showed how we are all managing different types of pain. One clinician explained that he thinks of pain management as the fifth vital sign.

Steve Cunanan, Chief People Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, came on next and spoke about the purpose of the symposium. He asked the crowd, “What do you want to get out of this experience? What do you want to learn and develop?”

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“That, my friends, is why you are here -YOU make a difference,” said Cunanan. “We touch over a million lives a year - that’s why we are here. We talk about hope, we talk about dignity, we talk about healing - that’s why you are here. And you are my heroes.”

Cunanan made a point that touching someone’s life is special, and making an impact should never become routine. He challenged those in the field to take what they learn at the symposium back home and be their own “Chief Learning Officer.”

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Dr. Marc Rothman, Chief Medical Officer, then spoke about clinical excellence. He shared a story from his early clinical days about one of the first patients who touched his life. Mr. B was a Korean man with multiple medical issues. Rothman spent a lot of time with him, working with him both medically and personally. During the time he cared for Mr. B, he realized that it was Korean Thanksgiving and also a birthday for Mr. B and he set out on a journey to find something of good luck for his patient.

He asked the audience how they recognized pain and suffering, and explained the “Wall of Caring” located outside the conference room. Each day of the conference, there will be a different question or statement for participants to answer and place on the wall to get a bigger picture of who we are and why we care. Day one’s statement was: “I recognize patients and families suffering when…” Rothman provided examples of what he sees as pain in patients and families: when they are angry, when they sound defeated and when they hold back tears.

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Rothman continued by introducing Lorraine and Ralph Theirs, a fictional case study that the symposium is using to work through care transitions. Their story can be followed through our coverage of #CIS2016.

To conclude the story about his former patient, Dr. Rothman said he finally found  an appropriate good luck gift for Mr. B in the form of a dinosaur egg plum, which Dr. Rothman presented to Mr. B for his birthday and for Korean Thanksgiving. Mr. B’s ex-wife translated his reply for Dr.  Rothman: “You are a good person.”

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“I came to learn about diseases and instead I learned about the people,” said Rothman. “I learned to approach dying patients the same as any other. These are special patients and special relationships. We enjoy that specialness and it sets us apart.”

Please continue to follow the Clinical Impact Symposium 2016 on the Kindred Continuum and on Twitter @KindredHealth.


*Each year the Kindred Clinical Impact Symposium focuses on a topic to enhance clinical practice in the post-acute continuum and to maintain Kindred as a leader in clinical excellence. This eighth symposium focuses on pain management across the continuum. At this week’s symposium, held in Louisville, Kentucky, national speakers discuss these topics broadly, while internal speakers bring it home to Kindred attendees from across the country.