Quality of Life: Palliative Care
September 2019 Issue
by John E. Shaner, M.D.
Definition of palliative care and its support: Who can benefit?
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness including, but not limited to, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, Alzheimer’s and more. This type of care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both patients and their families. Palliative care may be provided by multiple professionals that include physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers and others who work together with the patient to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age, at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided along with curative treatment plans. Palliative care can help enhance daily life, improve ability to tolerate medical treatments, and help patients and their family understand medical conditions and the treatment options.
Is palliative care provided in the home setting?
Not at this time in our area. Golden Isles Palliative Care partners with Southeast Georgia Health System to operate a Palliative Care Center on the Brunswick Campus. Palliative care services at Southeast Georgia Health System include inpatient hospital consultations and an outpatient clinic two days a week. Additionally, our palliative care team makes services available to patients in local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Southeast Georgia Health System Palliative Care Center is located on the third floor of the Outpatient Care Center, 2500 Starling Street, Suite 305, Brunswick.
How does a patient work with palliative care
and still with his/her personal doctor?
Appointments at the Palliative Care Center are made following a physician referral to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care helps to manage pain and symptoms, but also helps patients understand what treatment options are available. We ensure the patient understands their plan of care and that the patient and/or family’s wishes guides the care received.
What about insurance coverage?
Palliative care does generally require a referral from a physician. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care in the hospital and/or office setting. Insurance copays and deductibles may apply and can vary with individual insurances.
What is the major difference between
palliative care and hospice?
Palliative care is provided at any stage in a serious illness and does not require a certain life expectancy. Palliative care focuses on support, symptom management, and quality of life. Under palliative care patients may continue interventional disease modifying treatment. Hospice care is focused on support, symptom management and quality of life for patients with a six month or less prognosis.
Pictured Left: Southeast Georgia Health System Palliative Care Center: Ashley Head, NP, nurse practitioner; John E. Shaner, M.D., medical director; and Victoria Peck, R.N. (back)
Our thanks to: Southeast Georgia Health System Palliative Care Center: John E. Shaner, M.D., medical director; Ashley Head, NP, nurse practitioner; and Victoria Peck, R.N. for sharing this valuable information. Contact the center: Southeast Georgia Health System Palliative Care Center, 2500 Starling Street, Suite #305, Brunswick, GA 31520. Phone: 912-466-5190.