My letter on ethical palliative care published in National Catholic Register 6/14/15

Regarding “Pope Francis: Abandonment Does Greatest Injustice to the Elderly” (, March 6):
As an R.N. with 45 years of nursing experience, including many end-of-life situations, I’m sure the Pope meant “ethical” palliative care, which is indeed wonderful for both patients of any age and their families. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend towards calling unethical practices “palliative care.”
For example, just last year, I saw a middle-aged nurse/friend’s life deliberately ended due to so-called palliative care labeled “comfort care.” She had recently suffered a severe brain injury and was declared hopeless after a couple of weeks. The family was strongly encouraged to switch to “comfort care.” She was taken off a ventilator, had her feeding tube removed (against family wishes), and the sedation medications used when she was on the ventilator were continued and even increased when she continued to breathe on her own, until she died a few days later.
The public needs to be aware of such practices and what the Church teaches so that they can make informed decisions if they find themselves or a loved one in a difficult situation.
Nancy Valko
St. Louis, Missouri