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What is Covenant Health Palliative Care?

Palliative care focuses on managing symptoms for patients with acute, chronic or life-threatening illness, regardless of the diagnosis. These symptoms might include pain, nausea, shortness of breath and fluid retention, among others. Palliative care customizes treatments for individual needs and can help patients better understand their treatment options. The goal is to promote the highest quality of life for patients and their families.

How does palliative care work?

Palliative care can be delivered on an inpatient or outpatient basis anytime during a patient’s illness. Palliative care can be provided throughout a patient’s treatment for a serious illness and may be offered in conjunction with all other medical treatments.

How is palliative care different from hospice care?

  • Palliative care is available at any time during a serious or life-threatening illness. It is for patients who need help managing pain and other challenging symptoms.
  • Hospice care is for terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less if the disease runs its normal course. Hospice care is offered when curative or life-prolonging treatments have been stopped. A patient does not have to be in hospice to receive palliative care.

Who works on the palliative care team?

Covenant Health’s palliative care program uses an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals to support a patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The team looks at the whole person, which also includes the patient’s family members, and works with them to establish individualized goals of care. Regular family meetings are an essential component of our program.

The palliative care team includes:

  • Primary physician
  • Palliative care medical director
  • Palliative care nurse practitioner
  • Certified palliative care nurses
  • Case managers
  • Social workers
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Pharmacists
  • Chaplains
  • Volunteers

What are the benefits of palliative care?

  • Expert management of pain and other symptoms
  • Education for patients and families about the disease process, treatment options, and prognosis
  • Assistance in understanding treatment options and goals of care
  • Guidance for navigating the healthcare system
  • Emotional and spiritual support for patients and families
  • Help with spiritual or religious concerns
  • Assistance with advance care planning
  • Help with accessing community resources

How can I receive palliative care?

Ask your doctor for a Covenant Health palliative care referral if you think you or your family member would benefit from palliative care services.

Tips for talking with your doctor about palliative care:

  • Tell your doctor you are considering palliative care and ask what services are available to you.
  • Ask your doctor to explain your illness and treatment options.
  • Share with your doctor what quality of life means to you. Your priorities may include spending time with loved ones, treating pain and other distressing symptoms aggressively, the ability to make your own decisions regarding care and your preferred location for treatments (home vs. in the hospital).
  • Be sure your doctor is aware of any personal, religious or cultural beliefs, values and practices that are important to consider in your care and treatment decisions.
  • Tell your doctor what curative treatments you may or may not want, including:
    • 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
    • artificial nutrition by a feeding tube if you become unable to eat
  • If you have completed a living will or healthcare proxy, be sure to inform your doctor and provide a copy.
  • If you suffer from pain and other symptoms because of a serious illness, ask your doctor for a Covenant Health palliative care referral.
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