McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Brampton nurse a vital part of the palliative care journey

Published: January 25, 2013
Amanda MacLennan and Dr. Anne Woods
Amanda MacLennan (right), assistant clinical professor, Department of Family Medicine, receives the Elizabeth J. Latimer Prize in Palliative Care from Dr. Anne Woods, director, Division of Palliative Care, Department of Family Medicine at McMaster

Palliative care in the Brampton region has grown with Amanda MacLennan’s caring touch.

Two years ago, the Oakville resident joined the Brameast Family Health Organization, where she is the advanced practice nurse and palliative care team lead, and has helped grow the family practice to serve more than 50 palliative patients.

"The palliative patients light up in delight when she arrives to visit them on a house call," said Judy Maynard, a family physician with the Brameast practice. "Her sense of humour is well-timed so that they have been known to shake with laughter in sharing a common joke or some teasing. In the midst of serious discussions about death and dying, this always amazes me."

MacLennan, who is an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, has been named the recipient of the Elizabeth J. Latimer Prize in Palliative Care. The award is named in honour of Canadian pioneering palliative care physician and educator Dr. Elizabeth Latimer, a professor emeritus of McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine who died last year.

MacLennan entered the field of oncology in 1989. She has been working in Canada for 15 years in different community and palliative care settings, including Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, the Halton Community Care Access Centre, the Brampton Civic Hospital and the Brameast Family Practice Group.

MacLennan is recognized as a leader in improving palliative care by bringing together clinical leaders in various disciplines to integrate palliative care throughout the health care system.

While working at the Brampton hospital, she regularly met with nurses in the palliative care unit to discuss communication strategies and approaches to system management. Regional community care access centre nurses and oncology clinic staff sought out her advice and support. MacLennan organized lectures on palliative care topics for oncology rounds and helped teach McMaster family medicine residents doing electives in palliative care.

"Whenever she gets involved in a patient’s care, urgent frightened calls to our oncology clinic drop off, emergency department visits almost halt, and patients are directed back to us urgently when there are truly needs we can address," said Dr. Sandeep Sehdev, an oncologist at the Brampton Civic Hospital campus of the William Osler Health System and an assistant clinical professor in family medicine at McMaster University.

MacLennan’s cellphone was affectionately known at the hospital as the "Bat phone" to oncologists, who knew they could call her anytime for guidance. She is also accessible to her patients and their families 24 hours a day.

"The greatest testimony to her success is the fact that we have all noted a dramatic increase in the number of patients in our community who are now dying at home with their loving families, and not in an acute care hospital setting," Sehdev said.

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