David R. Wenner, DO FAAFP
Chief Medical Officer, Hospice of Central PA
Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on relief of physical, emotional, physiological and spiritual symptoms related to chronic and/or serious illness. Often, symptoms such as pain, anxiety, insomnia, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and appetite loss can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life. Palliative medicine specialists aim to reduce the burden of these symptoms by focusing on individualized treatment strategies, addressing the “Whole Patient” and not just the disease process.
Palliative care includes a specialized team of physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains. We work alongside the patient, family, and other medical providers as a team. Specialists in palliative care see patients in hospitals, in their offices, in long term care facilitates, as well as in their homes.
Palliative care is NOT the same as hospice care. Palliative care may be provided at any time during a person’s illness. Often, palliative care is offered to patients at the same time they are receiving potentially life prolonging or curative treatments. Receiving palliative care does not prevent the patient from pursuing other services, treatments, or procedures.
Another goal of palliative care is to help patients and families better understand their illness in order to assist with complex medical decision making. We strive for a patient’s values and goals to be heard and appreciated so that they can make the best decision possible for their care.
A referral to a Palliative Medicine physician does not mean your medical provider is “giving up hope.” Often, patients who receive palliative care early on in their disease process benefit from superior symptom management, greater emotional support, and overall improved quality of life.
Palliative ( pal-ee-uh-tiv)
Adj. intended to alleviate a problem. Synonyms: soothing, alleviating, calmative.