Meet Stephanie King, who manages the palliative care program at a Seattle-based health care service for seniors. Palliative care focuses on relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness.
What do you do? My role is the director of social services at Kline Galland, which provides health care services for seniors throughout King County. One of my responsibilities at Kline Galland is the management and continued development of the organization’s Palliative Care Program. This includes coordinating social services and long-term-care admissions with Kline Galland’s team, and palliative care planning for our residents, patients and their families.
What led you to palliative care as a specialty? I’ve worked in health care for more than 20 years. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed a lot of families need help with goal planning and decision-making for moving forward with an incurable disease. That’s why, when I started at Kline Galland, I jumped at the opportunity to work on the Palliative Care Program. I love going to work because I get to make a difference for our patients and their families.
What’s a typical day like? Palliative care means something different for each person and their family, so there really is no typical day. Usually, I spend a lot of time talking with our patients and their families to find out what their goals and needs are and how we can support them. That way, we can make it more about spending time with loved ones and less about decision making.
What surprises people about what you do? I think people would be surprised at how exciting and fulfilling my job is. A lot of people have a hard time discussing palliative care decisions with their loved ones, but it is so important. At Kline Galland, we have the tools to facilitate this conversation in a formalized and educational way. My goal is to normalize these conversations, and I love doing it.