Our Palliative Care team exists to address physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of individuals living with a serious illness. Palliative (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) care is appropriate at any stage of serious illness and can be provided at the same time as life-prolonging treatments. Here are some ways we can help:

Treatment to relieve pain and other symptoms

The Palliative Care team has expertise in the management of pain and other troublesome symptoms that may develop during the course of a serious illness. The goal of symptom management is to help the patient remain as comfortable, active and alert as possible. Good symptom control enables the patient to continue with favorite activities and enjoy the company of family and friends. The patient's care plan is individual and focuses on maximum comfort. Palliative care carefully monitors symptoms and uses a combination of medications tailored to the needs of each patient.

Individual and family counseling

Palliative Care focuses on the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. How the illness personally affects the lives of the patient and family is important. Everyone copes in different ways. Support is tailored to the needs and preferences of each individual. Supportive counseling is provided to those who find having a quiet time to reflect and to address their concerns helpful. Palliative Care also works to provide the patient and family with the information and resources needed to get through this challenging time.

Assistance with treatment choices and decisions

The Palliative Care team is available to help with decisions about treatment or changes in the direction of care. Even when treatment to cure a disease is no longer possible, aggressive treatment of symptoms is emphasized in order to promote comfort. The focus continues to be on intensive caring and support for the patient and family.  The patient's physicians continue to be involved.  The team provides consultation to the patient's regular physician who will continue to direct the patient's care.

Help in planning for care after the hospital

The Palliative Care team can provide information about a wide range of options for care, whether in the hospital, in another inpatient setting, or in the home. The goal is to facilitate a smooth transition, and to assure that care continues in keeping with the patient's goals and wishes. If and when hospice care is needed, Palliative Care can assist with making referrals to a hospice program in the patient's community.

End-of-life care

When an illness has progressed to an advanced stage, treatment to relieve pain and other symptoms, as well as emotional and spiritual support, continues. The Palliative Care team will remain closely involved, with a focus on intensive caring. The goal is to help the patient live life to the fullest with quality and dignity.

How does palliative care differ from hospice care?

Palliative care can be provided during any stage of a serious illness, even during active disease treatment such as advanced heart therapies like ventricular-assist devices, chemotherapy, or radiation. Team members can work with your doctors to help with the transition to hospice care, if needed.

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For more information on the Hospital Center's Palliative Care department, please call 202-877-7445.