Palliative care is a relatively new medical specialty that relieves suffering and improves quality of life for people with serious, chronic or life-threatening illnesses. It differs from hospice care in that it does not specifically focus on terminally ill patients, but more on strengthening the quality of life for people of all ages who are in pain and suffering. Palliative care is patient-centered — the healthcare team addresses each patient’s needs and priorities on a case-by-case basis. The Palliative Care team at Baptist Beaumont Hospital consists of Physicians, Nurses, Social Workers and Chaplains. They work together to ensure that every aspect of a patient’s discomfort, whether physical or emotional, is addressed. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about palliative care.
Q. How does palliative care help?
The Palliative Care team at Baptist Beaumont Hospital works to improve patients’ quality of life. Most commonly this involves pain management; however, the team also cares for patients suffering from ailments such as nausea, fatigue, anxiety, shortness of breath, depression, loss of sleep or even spiritual and emotional confusion. The team takes a holistic approach to patient care as well as care for family and caregivers.
Q. What types of illnesses are treated?
Palliative care is often associated with end-of-life or hospice care. But palliative care helps patients of all ages who are facing many types of diseases, including cancer, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, leukemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), AIDS and Alzheimer’s. A patient can begin palliative care as soon as he or she is diagnosed and continue throughout curative care. Some patients move out of palliative care when their conditions improve. Others with chronic diseases, such as COPD, may come and go as needed. If a patient has a terminal illness, palliative care focuses on improving quality of life as he or she transitions into hospice care.
Compassionate care when you need it
If you or a family member is interested in receiving palliative care, speak with your primary care physician. He or she can refer you to the Palliative Care team at Baptist Beaumont Hospital. Laurel B. Shrontz, RN, BSN, CCRN, MA, is Coordinator of the Palliative Care team. She can be reached at (409) 212-5065 or by email at Laurel.Shrontz@bhset.net
To learn more about compassionate Christian care and Baptist Beaumont Hospital's Chaplaincy Department, visit our "Faith & Values" page at www.bhset.net