If you are dealing with a painful and/or serious illness, special care is available to help control your symptoms and stress. It also makes you more comfortable right now. It's called palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv).
Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on relief of the pain and other symptoms of serious, life-threatening illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care is appropriate at any point in an illness. It can be provided at the same time you are being treated for your illness.
What you can expect from palliative care?
The benefits include:
• Relief from symptoms including pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, numbness and problems with sleep
• Strength to carry on with daily life
• Improved ability to tolerate medical treatments
• Better understanding of your condition and your choices for medical care
Begin palliative care early.
Palliative care can occur at the same time as all other treatments for your illness. It does not depend upon your prognosis. So there’s absolutely no reason to wait. Pain and other symptoms affect your quality of life, and the stress can have a big impact on your family. The palliative care team can help.
Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Hospice care is meant for people in the final months of life. Non-hospice palliative care, on the other hand, is available to you at any time during your illness while you’re in the hospital. Unlike hospice, you can also receive palliative care at the same time as curative treatments.
Palliative care makes all the difference.
Our palliative care team at the Western Maryland Health System includes a physician, nurse practitioner, social worker and chaplain. Together with your own family doctor, we make sure that you receive:
• Expert treatment of your pain and symptoms
• Close communication about your illness and treatment choices
• Coordination of your care among all of your health care providers
• Emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
• Referral and coordination of home care services
Your insurance will cover palliative care.
Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care services. It is handled like other medical services, such as oncology or cardiology.
How do I know if palliative care is right for me?
If you suffer from a serious illness, palliative care can make a difference. Serious illness includes:
• Cardiac disease
• Respiratory disease
• Kidney failure
• Alzheimer's disease
• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
• Multiple sclerosis
Getting palliative care is easy. Just ask for it.
You may already have been referred to the palliative care team, but if not, just ask your doctor for a referral. We work together with your primary physician so you will not have to give up your own doctor.
Western Maryland Health System
Palliative Care Services
For general information about palliative care, visit www.getpalliativecare.org