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From the Editor: Beyond the Cure
Date: September 1, 2012
Johns Hopkins is widely known as a place where medical miracles seem to happen every day—a place where the best minds labor (often successfully) to find treatments and cures for all kinds of difficult illnesses. In the words of one administrator here, “Our docs can always pull some rabbit out of a hat.”
And, in fact, we proudly share accounts of these medical magic acts in every issue of this magazine.
With this issue, however, we depart from this curative focus to look at specialists who are delivering Hopkins-level excellence along a parallel path. Known as palliative care, it’s aimed at treating the symptoms of serious illness rather than the disease itself, and it is rapidly gaining a foothold here, as you’ll discover in Jim Duffy’s cover story, “Comfort Zones.”
The timing couldn’t be better, nor the conditions within the field of health care more propitious. Palliative care exists in harmony with medicine’s growing emphasis on “patient-centered” care, by offering an individualized approach that relieves pain and suffering and creates the best possible quality of life for patients at any stage of illness. It also saves money, by avoiding expensive hospital admissions (and readmissions) and instead keeping patients at home, with their families, where they can make the most of their time together.
Within a medical environment like Johns Hopkins, which exalts the curative power of medicine, the effective delivery of palliative care represents a different kind of “success” story: one that is worth sharing, and celebrating.