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A Focus on Palliative Care

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Living with a chronic life-limiting illness can be emotionally and physically draining. Palliative care is the management of symptoms to relieve suffering as well as to assist in understanding difficult treatment options. Early implementation of palliative care can increase quality of life and may be used in addition to curative care of an illness.

Is palliative care only pain management?

No. Palliative care is not only pain management. It is true that we help manage pain in those people with cancer or end stage peripheral vascular disease, however palliative care is much more than that. Palliative care helps people and their families understand their disease processes in order to help provide informed decision making.

Why have I not heard of palliative care before?

Though palliative care is a growing field, it is a relatively new specialty. Many people who have heard of it often think it is the same as hospice care, but it is not. Palliative medicine is a consulting service similar to cardiology or pulmonology.

Will I still see my primary care doctor?

Yes, palliative care specialists are providers you see in addition to your other specialists and primary care doctor.

How do I pay for palliative care?

Palliative care is covered by most insurances. There may be a copay if this is normal for your insurance.

How do I sign up to receive palliative care?

As palliative care is a specialty service, a referral is required. The referral can come from your primary care doctor or from a different specialist.

What does symptom management mean?

Palliative medicine often helps to manage symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and constipation when they are related to a chronic life-limiting illness such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and congestive heart failure (CHF).

What are care conversations?

Care conversations are when we sit with a person and their family to get to know them and to help determine their goals for their health. As decision points come up, we try to help ensure that the decisions they are making align with their previously defined goals.

Is there a difference between palliative care and a pain clinic?

Palliative medicine only treats pain associated with chronic life-limiting disease processes such as cancer and end stage/inoperable peripheral arterial disease. Palliative medicine does not typically manage chronic low back pain or pain associated with osteoarthritis. While we manage pain with topicals and oral medications, the pain clinic often uses procedural pain management such as epidurals and other injections.

What is the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

Palliative care can be provided throughout any part of the disease process including at the time of diagnosis of a life-limiting disease. Palliative medicine works alongside a patient’s primary doctor and any specialists that they have. Palliative care can be combined with full aggressive or curative care.
Hospice care is a philosophy of care where patients and their families have chosen to pursue care focused on quality of life as opposed to curative care. Hospice generally takes over all of a patient’s care and can work with their primary care provider or take over as their main provider.

Do I come to your office or do you come to my home/long term care facility/hospital?

This depends on your ability to travel. We often see people in their homes as well as in facilities or at our office on an outpatient basis. We try to see people where they are most comfortable having conversations about their overall health.

Our staff will be glad to talk with you, family members and caregivers, or to your health care providers about palliative care. For more information call 269.429.7100 or 800.457.1603

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For more information call
(269) 429-7100 or
(800) 717-3811

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