HealthQuest Stories

Show Results For:
Clear Filters

Patient Stories

View All

Subscribe to Our
e-Newsletter

Subscribe

What is Palliative Medicine?

Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM
Palliative care is an interdisciplinary specialty that aims to support people with serious illness and their circles of support physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Many people are uncertain about what palliative care is and what it does. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary specialty that aims to support people with serious illness and their circles of support physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Serious illness is difficult for patients due to hard-to-control symptoms including pain, nausea, fatigue and depression. On top of that, navigating the complex medical care system and making decisions about what treatments might or might not be helpful can feel overwhelming. The palliative care team can help patients navigate these difficult waters, take the time to deeply explore what is important to the individual patient and work with other team members to adjust medicines and referrals to optimize quality of life.

Patient and spouse with Palliative Care provider

Circles of loved ones can experience similar challenges. Family conflict is common among patients with serious illness and their loved ones. The palliative care team can assist patients and their circle of loved ones in understanding each other and coming to agreement about what is most important.

Why is palliative care needed? There are many reasons. One reason is that patients often have multiple care providers and the palliative care team is able to sit down with the patient and loved ones to put the big picture together. Many physicians would love to spend more time with their patients, however, they simply don’t have the time. Palliative care team members have the luxury of taking that time. Palliative care team members also have specially trained expertise in symptom control and communication.

One source of confusion is the difference between palliative care and hospice. Hospice is a specialized type of palliative care for patients who are (usually) in the last six months of life, who have elected not to pursue life-prolonging measures. It is a benefit that is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans, and has been proven to improve symptoms at the end of life and help grieving loved ones.

In contrast, palliative care can be provided alongside life-prolonging and curative care during any stage of a serious illness. In a landmark study in 2010, patients receiving palliative care were demonstrated to have prolonged life compared to patients receiving standard care.

Skagit Valley Hospital offers an inpatient palliative care program with a team of physicians who see patients with serious illness when a referral is requested. Janice Gatzke, DO and Bree Johnston, MD, MPH currently staff the program Monday through Friday. Social work support is also available on a regular basis. The goal is to expand the palliative care program and team to assist in cancer care and primary care, featuring additional social work and spiritual care support. 

Blog

219 posts

Last post : 09/23/2021

What is Palliative Medicine?

Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM
Palliative care is an interdisciplinary specialty that aims to support people with serious illness and their circles of support physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Many people are uncertain about what palliative care is and what it does. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary specialty that aims to support people with serious illness and their circles of support physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Serious illness is difficult for patients due to hard-to-control symptoms including pain, nausea, fatigue and depression. On top of that, navigating the complex medical care system and making decisions about what treatments might or might not be helpful can feel overwhelming. The palliative care team can help patients navigate these difficult waters, take the time to deeply explore what is important to the individual patient and work with other team members to adjust medicines and referrals to optimize quality of life.

Patient and spouse with Palliative Care provider

Circles of loved ones can experience similar challenges. Family conflict is common among patients with serious illness and their loved ones. The palliative care team can assist patients and their circle of loved ones in understanding each other and coming to agreement about what is most important.

Why is palliative care needed? There are many reasons. One reason is that patients often have multiple care providers and the palliative care team is able to sit down with the patient and loved ones to put the big picture together. Many physicians would love to spend more time with their patients, however, they simply don’t have the time. Palliative care team members have the luxury of taking that time. Palliative care team members also have specially trained expertise in symptom control and communication.

One source of confusion is the difference between palliative care and hospice. Hospice is a specialized type of palliative care for patients who are (usually) in the last six months of life, who have elected not to pursue life-prolonging measures. It is a benefit that is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans, and has been proven to improve symptoms at the end of life and help grieving loved ones.

In contrast, palliative care can be provided alongside life-prolonging and curative care during any stage of a serious illness. In a landmark study in 2010, patients receiving palliative care were demonstrated to have prolonged life compared to patients receiving standard care.

Skagit Valley Hospital offers an inpatient palliative care program with a team of physicians who see patients with serious illness when a referral is requested. Janice Gatzke, DO and Bree Johnston, MD, MPH currently staff the program Monday through Friday. Social work support is also available on a regular basis. The goal is to expand the palliative care program and team to assist in cancer care and primary care, featuring additional social work and spiritual care support.