Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.
Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.
Palliative care providers partner with you and your doctors, and support you and your family every step of the way, not only by controlling your symptoms, but also by helping you to understand your treatment options and goals. They offer:
- Close (frequent and timely) communication
- Expert management of pain and other symptoms
- Help navigating the healthcare system
- Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
- Emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
Palliative care providers and teams in hospitals and in the community (for example, in a CHHA or outpatient clinics/offices) can be located in different ways. Most palliative care teams are located in the hospital and not in outpatient offices (doctor’s offices).
Providers in Westchester who specialize in palliative care:
You can also contact a local hospice program and ask for the name of the Medical Director of the hospice program. This person is likely experienced, if not certified, as a palliative medicine specialist. Call his or her office to make an appointment. If you are seeking palliative care for a person who lives outside Westchester, you man find guidance and direction here.
Palliative care visits are paid for by insurance like any other office visit or consultation. Unlike hospice, palliative care is not a formal benefit with coverage specific to end of life care. Palliative care does not require that a person suspend curative treatment. Palliative care is comprehensive, expert medical care that should be provided when symptoms or other aspects of living with serious illness require extra help and specialized support.
Because palliative care services are delivered at any time and with any diagnosis it is difficult to specify how you will interact with the palliative care team or provider. Palliative care specialists meet you and your family where you are in your understanding of the illness and its treatments. They help you with practical day-to-day advice and understanding how to maintain quality of life.