Meet the People Behind the Mission: Medical Director
Mar. 1, 2023
By Dr. Kinsey Nelson
Combining medicine with compassion for meaningful work
As a family physician, my education and training prepared me to be able to care for patients of all ages and stages of life, from birth to the end of life, and everything in between. In addition to being able to diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions, as well as focusing on preventive care and health promotion, my role as a family physician is also unique thanks to the relationships I am able to build with my patient’s entire family, often because their family members are also my patients. As such, I have often seen firsthand how the illness of one family member can have wide-ranging impacts on the entire family. This is particularly true when a loved one is dealing with a terminal illness.
Providing peace and comfort with end-of-life care
Though it can be difficult to discuss the end-of-life with patients and their families, I have learned how important and ultimately comforting having this conversation can be for them. Over the course of my career as a primary care physician, particularly while providing care to my patients in the hospital, I have learned that there are times when the most medically appropriate and compassionate thing that we can do for our patients as healthcare providers is to intervene less and to focus more on their comfort and the quality of their remaining life. Patients and families have sometimes been surprised to hear me say that death is not always the worst outcome nor a failure. This topic is understandably commonly approached with fear, often from a lack of understanding. I have learned that this represents an opportunity for another way that I can help serve my patients.
The role of Dr. Kinsey Nelson
I was therefore excited to join the Ethos Home Health Care and Hospice team in 2019 to serve as their medical director. In this role, I oversee and guide the medical care of the patients admitted to Ethos Hospice through close coordination with our nurses and other hospice staff. This includes managing medications as well as other non-medical modalities to be sure our patients’ symptoms are well-managed to maximize their comfort and quality of life.
I work very closely with the nursing staff to help manage any new symptoms or acute changes in our patients’ status to be sure both our patients and their families feel comfortable and supported. I am also responsible for reviewing the medical history including ongoing symptoms of all the new referrals we receive for hospice to determine which patients may be eligible for hospice services. My advice to anyone who is starting to consider whether hospice may be right for their loved one is to reach out to us sooner rather than later to at least learn more about hospice. Many people have a misconception of what hospice is, including who may qualify and what kind of symptoms it can help manage. Even if your loved one may not qualify for hospice, there may be other options, such as our home health care services, that they may benefit from.
Profoundly meaningful work
Though dealing with the end-of-life can be challenging, particularly when it comes much too soon for some, I have found the work that we do at Ethos to be profoundly meaningful. I have seen the relief on the faces of family members to know that they don’t have to go through this alone and that their loved one doesn’t have to suffer. I’ve seen the peace that comes when a patient is no longer worried that they will be a burden to their family and accepts that it’s okay for them to let others take care of them and to be comfortable. I have felt the support in my own personal life when hospice allowed a family member to pass away comfortably at their home which meant so much to them surrounded by family. I feel fortunate to be part of a team that allows our patients to maintain the comfort and dignity that everyone deserves at the end of their lives. I am proud to be part of Ethos as I am surrounded and supported by team members that consistently demonstrate the utmost compassion and empathy to our patients and their families as they help them navigate the end of life’s journey.
More about Dr. Kinsey Nelson
Dr. Kinsey Nelson is the Medical Director for Ethos Home Health Care and Hospice program. He strives to provide high-quality, comprehensive healthcare to all of his patients. Along with treating a wide variety of acute illnesses, Dr. Nelson also specializes in the management of complex chronic diseases. Areas of interest include diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, orthopedics/sports medicine, depression/anxiety as well as well-child care, men’s and women’s health.
Dr. Nelson graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in Minneapolis, MN. He completed his residency at the United Family Medicine Residency Program in Saint Paul, MN. He also completed a post-graduate Fourth Year of Mastery at United Family Medicine.
Dr. Nelson is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. This means that he has fulfilled the necessary criteria established by the regulating board and has passed examinations that accredit him in the field of family medicine.