Palliative care is medical care to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for patients with serious and/or life-threatening illness. This is accomplished with advanced symptom management facilitated by a team of experts. Palliative care is provided at the same time as other appropriate medical treatment. Unlike hospice, palliative care is available to any patient, not just patients with a limited life expectancy. Patients referred to the Palliative Care Team can continue curative treatments and receive aggressive treatment for their pain and other symptoms, along with increased physical and spiritual support.
Meet the Team
From left: Palliative Care Team members Rev. David Hodgson, M.Div., MS; Co-Medical Director Brian Boyd, MD; Nurse Practitioner Peggy Del Mastro, RN, RNP, MSN; Social Worker Linda Hollinger, MSW; Hospice Liaison Suzanne Engelder, MSW; Co-Medical Director Melvyn Sterling, MD; and Nurse Practitioner Rosemary Le, RN, RNP, MSN.
Our Consultative Palliative Care Team is comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains. This team may be asked by your physician to provide palliative care to you. This is an additional resource provided to you and your family while you are an inpatient. Your physician remains the leader of your medical team.
Your Physician and Palliative Care Team Can Help by:
- Providing services that meet the special physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs of you and your family
- Offering assistance to you and your family to identify goals of treatment
- Helping with aggressive management of pain and other symptoms
- Supporting family care givers
- Simply listening and offering support
Other Benefits of Palliative Care
Most patients suffering from illness want symptom management and some sense of control. Many times they want to spend time with their loved ones to remember good times and talk about important things. Pain and other symptoms may get in the way of allowing the patient to do this. When your physician asks the Palliative Care Team to assist with your care, it is similar to a referral to any other specialist.
How Does Palliative Care Begin?
Your primary care physician may discuss palliative care with you. If you choose, your physician will make a referral to our Palliative Care Team. You may also ask your physician for a palliative care consult. The team will respond promptly by reviewing your medical record and current plan of care. The team will assess both your needs as well as the needs of your family. The findings will determine the palliative plan of care, which will be recommended to you and your physician.
The following are some suggestions for you and your family as you discuss your goals of care with your physician:
- Ask your doctor to explain your illness as well as past, current and future treatments and procedures.
- Explain to your doctor what quality of life means to you. This list may include being able to spend time with loved ones, having pain and other distressing symptoms aggressively treated, the ability to make your own decisions for care and your preferred location of treatments (home vs. in the hospital).
- Be sure your doctor is aware of any personal, religious or cultural beliefs, values or practices that are important to consider in your care and treatment decisions.
- Tell your doctor what curative treatments you may or may not want, such as resuscitation if your heart were to stop, being placed on a mechanical ventilator if your lungs were to fail, undergoing dialysis if your kidneys were to fail, and artificial nutrition by a feeding tube if you were unable to eat.