Palliative Care Frequently Asked Questions

How does Palliative Care help?

Palliative (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) Care focuses on the whole person, addressing the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of individuals living with a serious illness. We help tailor the medical plan to respect your hopes, beliefs, values, and traditions; we put an emphasis on improving quality of life for you and your family.

Why did Palliative Care come to see me or my family?

Members of the Palliative Care team are experts in supporting you and your family in confronting advanced and/or critical illness. Your medical team believes you may need relief from pain or other bothersome symptoms, help in choosing from treatment options, or assistance in planning for care after the hospital.

Who is on the Palliative Care team?

Our team is made up of physicians, a nurse practitioner, social workers, pharmacists, and a chaplain. We also educate the next generation of Palliative Care physicians in our fellowship program (hyperlink). This collaborative approach means that you get the benefit of input from all types of healthcare professionals. Meet our team (hyperlink).

When is the best time to receive Palliative Care?

Whether you were just diagnosed with a complex illness or are in an advanced stage, Palliative Care can help reduce difficult physical or emotional symptoms while providing support at every step. Many people receive palliative Care while getting treatment meant to cure them. If you have reached the final stages of life, the goal of Palliative Care is to help you live life to the fullest with quality and dignity, and transition to Hospice if appropriate.

Where can I get Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center?

We provide services to hospitalized patients who are receiving complex care throughout MedStar Washington Hospital Center, the Washington Cancer Institute, and MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute (check us out on page 12-hyperlink).

Is Palliative Care just another name for Hospice?

Unlike 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.

Helpful Links

  • Hunter Groninger, MD, FAAHPM; Director, Section of Palliative Care, talks about the value of palliative care. View video.
  • Read more about how Palliative Care enhances treatment for patients with advanced heart failure in Cardiovascular Physician.
  • Read more about the team’s work in national medical journals.
  • Our Palliative Care Team


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