According to the National Quality Forum:
Palliative Care refers to patient- and family-centered care that optimizes quality-of-life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering.
Palliative care throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs and facilitating patient autonomy, access to information and choice.
While hospice care is considered palliative care, palliative care is much broader than just hospice care. Patients do not need to have a limited prognosis to receive palliative care. They can receive it at any point in their disease trajectory, even while receiving curative treatments.
The St. Elizabeth Palliative Care team is directed by a board certified physician in hospice and palliative medicine. The service also includes an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), a master’s level social worker and pastoral care staff. The service is available seven days a week/24 hours a day.
The Palliative Care team provides education, medical intervention and support regarding symptom management, communication issues, ethical dilemmas and family conference/goal setting. Palliative care providers gently help patients reach conclusions that are in line with their goals, then do their best to help them achieve those goals.
Research indicates that palliative care, when offered concurrently with curative treatments, can actually prolong a patient’s life and provide a better quality of life.
Palliative Care at St. Elizabeth is offered as an inpatient consult service at the Edgewood, Ft. Thomas and Florence Hospitals. Any physician can make a referral to the palliative care team.