What is palliative medicine?
Palliative medicine (pal-lee-uh-tiv) specializes in the relief of the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to prevent and ease suffering and to offer patients and their families the best possible quality of life. It is useful at any stage of an illness. And, it can be provided at the same time as treatment that is meant to cure you.
Palliative medicine helps you carry on with your daily life. It improves your ability to go through medical treatments. It may help you better understand your condition and your choices for medical care. In short, you can expect the best possible quality of life through a process specializing in the relief of pain, symptoms and the stress related to serious illness.
Palliative medicine is not the same as hospice care. Hospice care also provides palliative medicine; however, it is focused on terminally ill patients who are no longer seeking treatments to cure.
Does my insurance pay for palliative medicine?
Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans cover all or part of the palliative care treatment you receive in the hospital. If costs concern you, a social worker or financial consultant from the palliative care team may be of further assistance to answer your questions.
Who provides palliative medicine?
A team of St. Elizabeth experts, including doctors, nurses, home health care experts and social workers, provide palliative medicine. Each palliative medicine plan is uniquely created for the individual, so chaplains, pharmacists, nutritionists and others might also be part of your team.
Working in partnership, your palliative medicine team provides:
- expert treatment of pain and other symptoms
- ongoing clear communication
- help navigating the healthcare system
- guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
- detailed practical information and assistance
- emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
How do I know if palliative medicine is right for me?
Palliative medicine may be right for you if you suffer from pain or other symptoms due to a serious illness.
Serious illnesses may include:
- cardiac disease
- congestive heart failure
- respiratory disease
- kidney or liver failure
- Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- multiple sclerosis
Or if you have experienced:
- frequent emergency room visits
- multiple admissions to the hospital (3 or more within 12 months) with the same symptoms
- turning point in the illness where treatment is no longer working
- eating problems associated with an advanced illness
What can I expect?
Palliative medicine can be provided at any stage of illness and along with treatment meant to cure you.
You can expect relief from:
- shortness of breath
- lack of appetite
How do I start receiving palliative medicine?
A physician’s referral is required, so start by talking with your physician.
For further information, call St. Elizabeth Palliative Medicine Associates Outpatient Clinic at (402) 219-5051 (Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)