Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness or chronic condition. The focus of palliative care is to improve your quality of life through managing your symptoms. These may include pain, shortness of breath, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and more. Palliative care is different from hospice because you do not have to have a life-limiting illness or be nearing the end of life to receive palliative care. Palliative care has no time limit.
While receiving palliative care, you also may receive curative treatments. For example, if you have cancer, you may receive drugs and other therapies aimed at curing the cancer while you are also receiving palliative care to help you manage the side effects of your treatment.
Lake Regional's palliative care team also will provide you with education and guidance. They will explain your treatment options and help you think through your health care goals. These conversations will help you make choices that support what's important to you.
Lake Regional offers palliative care to three groups of patients:
- Hospitalized patients
- Lake Regional Cancer Center patients
- Patients who have two or more chronic conditions
Palliative Care for Hospitalized and Lake Regional Cancer Center Patients
Patients admitted to Lake Regional Hospital and those receiving care at Lake Regional Cancer Center receive palliative care through a consult. Nurses trained in palliative care will meet with the patient and family to discuss disease-related issues. The nurses work with a team of palliative care providers, including physicians, social workers, pharmacists, dietitians and a chaplain, to help manage symptoms and assist patients in meeting their health care goals.
Palliative Chronic Care Management Program
To be eligible for Lake Regional's Palliative Chronic Care Management program, patients must have two or more chronic conditions, such as arthritis, COPD, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression or some other ongoing medical problem. Participants also must have a Lake Regional primary care provider and be enrolled in Medicare.
For patients who meet these criteria, a Lake Regional palliative care nurse will provide help with medications, coordinate care between various health care providers, and assist with such symptoms as pain, nausea, weakness and shortness of breath. This nurse—the patient's case manager—calls the patient at least once a month to see how the patient is doing, and the patient can call the nurse as often as needed with questions and concerns.
If you are interested in this program, ask your Lake Regional primary care provider for a referral.