News Center

Thursday, August 27, 2009

St. Francis Palliative Care Clinic provides myriad resources to patients

INDIANAPOLIS – Patients who have been diagnosed with a serious illness face a myriad of questions and issues, many of which they have never had to address before.

Mercy Obeime, M.D., family physician with additional training in palliative medicine, likes to seize the moment as an opportunity to begin a planning process that will carry them through the rest of their lives, whether that be six months or 10 years.

“While patients are still able and receiving treatment for their illness, we can discuss how they could provide for their families if they become unable to work and we identify specific community resources they could call upon,” said Obeime, a St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers physician.

“We talk about living wills, power of attorney and funeral wishes as well as pain management,” she added.

Obeime is well known for her work with the uninsured and underinsured at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center at Garfield Park. She’s now branching out to provide an outpatient palliative care clinic to serve those who need help planning for the future in the face of a serious illness.

“It’s important to remember that curative and palliative measures can happen at the same time,” she said.
Palliative care focuses on relief of pain and other symptoms of a serious illness, like chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), congestive heart failure or cancer.

Treatments address shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.

Palliative care can also help patients better understand their choices for care and gain the strength to carry on with daily life. The overall goal is to enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Obeime pulls from her resource network established because of her work at the neighborhood health center. She also emphasizes the holistic approach to palliative care, looking at the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of each patient.

“The goal is wellness in all four of those patients’ needs,” she said.

Another goal of the palliative care clinic is to refer patients to hospice sooner rather than later. Medicare coverage for hospice patients begins when two physicians certify the patient has six months or less to live.

The Palliative Care Clinic at the St. Francis Neighborhood Health Center, located at 234 East Southern Ave, is open four half days on Tuesdays and Thursdays each month by appointment.

Patients can be referred to Dr. Obeime by calling 317-781-9669.

More information about the St. Francis Neighborhood Health Center is at

The center is a funding priority of the St. Francis Healthcare Foundation. Each year the foundation raises significant contributions to assist the the facility.