McMaster University

McMaster University

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Health Sciences

Connecting with patients key for palliative care prize winner

Published: March 1, 2017
Dr. Martin Chasen
Dr. Martin Chasen - winner of the Elizabeth J. Latimer Prize in Palliative Care

For Martin Chasen, it's all about getting into a patient's world and being brought along on their journey, where the physician feels he can truly make a difference in their quality of life. That is what inspires this year's winner of McMaster University's Elizabeth J. Latimer Prize in Palliative Care.

Chasen, who said he was "quite overwhelmed" to receive the award this week, is the medical director of palliative care for the William Osler Health System (WOHS) in Brampton and an associate clinical professor of family medicine for the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster.

The Elizabeth J. Latimer Prize recognizes excellence and innovation in palliative care, and is named in honour of McMaster's late physician and educator who was internationally renowned as a pioneer in palliative care. The award is given to a clinician, teacher, researcher or administrator whose work paves the way for continued growth and improvement of end-of-life care in the region.

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Chasen said he came to Canada in 2004 as an oncologist with an interest in palliative care, but he now considers himself a palliative care physician with an interest in oncology.

From 2009 to 2015, he was the medical director of palliative care at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre and the Palliative Rehabilitation Program at √Člisabeth Bruy√®re Hospital in Ottawa.

Clasen was nominated for the award by Naheed Dosani, a McMaster alumnus and a palliative care physician at Brampton Civic Hospital who has worked closely with Chasen in program development, quality improvement, research, medical education and more recently, in regional and provincial system development roles.

Chasen was tasked with revamping the supportive palliative care program for the Brampton hospital system. Dosani said that what started as a program mainly focused on end-of-life care in an acute hospital setting has now flourished into a thriving program featuring a 14-bed acute palliative care unit, a busy palliative medicine consult team, a robust Supportive Palliative Care Clinic, and a brand new community-based Home Palliative Care Program. Chasen also played a pivotal role in developing and launching hospital's palliative care medical education program.

Chasen is a researcher and lecturer, but he says his relationships with patients are where his work has the most meaningful impact.

"When you sit down with a patient and you empathize with them and you're compassionate with them, and you get as much into their space where you can, then you feel what they experience," said Chasen. "It's allowing them to feel like whatever's happening to them is shared, and I think when it's shared, the suffering is halved."

He added: "I've found that if I can take that responsibility of the disease off the patient's shoulders for two minutes, they feel so much better. I try to make it my goal that patients never feel helpless, hopeless and abandoned."

"Through my work with Dr. Chasen, I have always been inspired by his strong work ethic and commitment to patient care," said Dosani. "His passionate, positive, curious, and keen attitude has always been refreshing and contributes to an enjoyable environment for interdisciplinary team members, patients and caregivers."


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