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What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care, sometimes called comfort care, is designed to give relief to patients through symptom management and by addressing the spiritual, emotional and psychosocial burdens of disease.  The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life.  The focus is on compassionate, specialized care, which may be delivered in all care settings including hospice, nursing home and home care as well as in hospitals.

Please contact Susan Redding, MSN, FNP-C for assistance or more information about Palliative Care. Phone 847-0868 or  847-4999, pager #3821.

What Palliative Care Services Are Available At PCMH?

The services of the palliative care team are available to patients, families and staff at PCMH.  The team includes a physician, a nurse practitioner, a social worker, a chaplain and several trained volunteers.  A palliative care unit is now available at PCMH to meet the short-term needs of patients and families who are in need of this type of care.  These beds are available to patients who are actively dying or whose families are preparing to take them home or to a nursing facility with hospice case management or to an inpatient hospice facility. Specially trained volunteers provide visitation and/or respite services for the patients/families referred to palliative care. With the generous support of the Service League at PCMH, the loved ones of patients who are actively dying receive “comfort kits”.  These kits provide supplies that can facilitate appropriate care of the dying.  Several of the affiliate hospitals in the UHS system are beginning to develop palliative care services for their institutions.

How Does One Access The Services Of The Palliative Care Team At PCMH?

Although the majority of referrals are initiated by the patient’s primary hospital medical team, the palliative care team accepts a referral from anyone who has a concern for the comfort needs of patients with advanced disease. If the referral has not been initiated by the primary team of physicians caring for the patient, the nurse practitioner on the team reviews the chart and contacts the appropriate physician on the primary team to verify that the referral is appropriate for a palliative care consult. Anyone may call a referral to 252-847-0868.  Please leave patient/consult information on line #1 at this number as all team members access this line. Physicians write an order for consultation per hospital policy.

What Kind Of Circumstances Might Prompt A Referral To The Palliative Care Team?

1.)

Advance Care Planning while hospitalized

2.)

Resources for symptom management in advanced disease.

3.)

Education regarding advanced disease and/or bereavement issues.

4.)

Information about hospice services.

5.)

Resources/assistance at the time of dying.

6.)

Support with bereavement.

March 17, 2009

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