Palliative Care and Hospice
Expert Care for Serious or Prolonged Illness
Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is the medical specialty focused on improving overall quality of life for patients and families facing serious illness. Palliative care supports the patient's and family's goals and preferences as they relate to medical treatment. Emphasis is placed on relieving pain and other distressing physical, spiritual and emotional symptoms that often accompany serious illness and enhancing communication and coordination of care.
Palliative care is provided by a team of professionals working together with your primary doctor. It is appropriate at any point in a serious illness and can be provided at the same time as treatment that is meant to cure or control a disease or illness. Following are some of the more frequently asked questions we receive related to our palliative care program:
South Nassau has a palliative care program staffed by a team of health care professionals working together with your attending physician. The team is made up of a physician and nurse practitioner who are board-certified in hospice and palliative medicine, as well as an administrative director who is also an advanced certified hospice and palliative care social worker. Spiritual care liaisons, social workers, care managers, pharmacists, nutritionists and other services are also involved as needed.
The palliative care team provides care and coordinates services. The team collaborates and communicates about the patient's care needs to the patient, families, and health care providers. Services can be provided with, or independent of, curative or life-prolonging care that supports peace and dignity throughout the course of illness, during the dying process and after death .
You may request a palliative care consultation by asking your physician, any staff member or by calling the palliative care office directly. The request can be made by calling 516-632-4200.
“Comfort care” is when a person has transitioned from curative treatments and life-prolonging care to care that focuses on relieving pain and other symptoms to improve the quality of life without prolonging it. Comfort care facilitates a transition to hospice.
Palliative care is available with, or independent of, life-prolonging care from the point of the patient's diagnosis and throughout the course of the disease. Hospice service is not life-prolonging, and is typically only used near the end of the patient's life. Hospice offers palliative care for the patient, but palliative care does not necessarily include hospice services.
Hospice is provided either at home, in a free-standing hospice facility or as part of a nursing home setting. A person can be transitioned to comfort care in the hospital, with the goal being to return them to the community with hospice care.
When you have discussed the options with your family and health care team and have decided to decline any further treatment other than that which ensures comfort, peace and dignity, then hospice would be appropriate.
South Nassau's Social Work Department, working with your physician or nurse practitioner, will assist with a hospice evaluation at the appropriate time. They can be contacted at 516-632-3925.
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