Palliative Care is an interdisciplinary specialty of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and other healthcare professionals focused on relieving pain, discomfort, and stress for patients and families facing a life threatening illness. Palliative care recognizes that facing death is a difficult thing to do. Palliative Care also helps patients and families understand and accept their illness, while helping them make difficult decisions, such as advanced healthcare planning and stopping treatment. Palliative Care also treats the emotional and spiritual distress that occurs during this time in patients’ and families lives.
Palliative Care is appropriate at the time of diagnosis of the life threatening illness, during treatment, after treatment is completed, and/or the patient is nearing the end of life. Do not think of Palliative Care as what you do when nothing else can be done. Even when nothing else can be done to cure the patient’s illness, a great deal can still be offered to the patient and his or her family.
The Palliative Care Consultation Program at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center was started in October 2005 with these same ideas in mind. Dr. Alan Roth and Dr. Gina Basello, with the hospital wide palliative care committee that they initiated, recognized that the many underserved patients at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center often faced their life threatening illnesses and death without this kind of support. Since that time we have cared for nearly 200 patients.