Faced with life-limiting medical conditions, individuals and families can turn to the holistic approach of palliative medicine to improve their quality of life.
Living with a serious medical condition can be overwhelming for patients and families who are dealing with questions about everything from pain management to spiritual well-being. Palliative care is a field designed specifically around the needs of these individuals.
Doctors typically recommend palliative care for those with chronic conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
Palliative care may also be an effective option for those who receive chemotherapy for cancer or are recovering from a neurological event, such as a stroke.
Why Turn to Supportive Care?
“The goal of palliative medicine is to improve quality of life for patients and their loved ones by taking a team approach to care,” said Billie May, MSN, RN, palliative care clinical nurse specialist with KentuckyOne Health Cancer Care in Lexington. “Palliative specialists perform in-depth individual assessments. The team of physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and chaplains are available to each patient. We make sure everyone has the support they need to make informed decisions.”
Supportive palliative services assist chronically ill patients with issues, such as pain, nausea, loss of appetite and depression, that accompany their diagnoses. While these services may be initiated at any stage of a life-limiting health condition, the sooner palliative services are embraced, the more helpful they can be.
Palliative Care Services
Palliative care services are available to patients admitted to Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East, both part of KentuckyOne Health. Additionally, KentuckyOne Health Cancer Care in Lexington has a palliative care clinic twice each month for oncology patients.
“Patients and families who engage in palliative care services may have greater peace of mind during a time that can be very confusing and uncomfortable,” said Lynnette RauvolaBouta, vice president of mission integration with Saint Joseph East, Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph Jessamine, all part of KentuckyOne Health. “We strive to help them feel that they are being cared about as human beings so that they may focus all of their energy on the things that are important in their lives.”
“The palliative care team collaborates with patients’ other providers, such as primary care physicians and a variety of specialists. Together, we ensure care plans meet patients’ needs on every level — physically, emotionally, psychosocially and spiritually,” said May.
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of One Health magazine. Receive more health and wellness news and information when you sign up for your free subscription of One Health.