Treating the Symptoms of Chronic Illness
The LifeCare Palliative Team consists of a certified palliative care physician and certified physician's assistants.
WHAT IS PALLIATIVE CARE?
Palliative care is a medical subspecialty that treats the symptoms of chronic life-limiting illnesses for patients who are not yet ready for hospice care. Palliative Care is a consultative service that supports the patient’s primary care physician by providing specialized care to manage pain and other symptoms in cases where relief is hard to achieve. Additional assistance is provided for coordination of care, patient and family support and education, and decisions regarding future health care. The focus is on improving quality of life for patients and their families.
What type of patient is appropriate for palliative care?
A typical LifeCare Palliative Medicine patient lives with more than one chronic condition. They may continue to receive curative treatment and often need help coordinating the care given by multiple healthcare providers in varying specialties. Our staff provides assistance in making healthcare decisions; we communicate the patient’s decisions to other healthcare members as well.
LifeCare Palliative Medicine provides care for patients in area hospitals, in area long-term care facilities, in the LifeCare Palliative Medicine outpatient clinic, or in the patient’s home if they are no longer mobile.
How do I receive a referral for a LifeCare Palliative Medicine Consultation?
The patient’s primary care physician must give their approval for a consultation by LifeCare Palliative Medicine. The patient or their family should discuss the desire for palliative care with the patient’s primary care physician and that physician will determine if the patient is appropriate for palliative care. If so, the primary care physician will contact the LifeCare Palliative Medicine office and sign an order for a consult.
What is the role of the primary care physician when a patient is receiving palliative care?
The patient’s primary care physician may be providing routine palliative care as part of their normal scope of practice. When situations are unusual, extraordinarily time consuming, or resistant to usual approaches, the primary care physician may request assistance from a palliative care specialist.
The primary care physician remains in control of the patient’s care but has confidence that they can rely on the expertise and extensive experience of the Palliative Care team to suggest different approaches in care, conduct in-depth family conferences, care planning sessions, and coordinate the patient’s care across the usual healthcare boundaries.
What happens once a referral is made to LifeCare Palliative Medicine?
Once LifeCare Palliative Medicine receives a referral and an order for a palliative care consult from the patient’s primary care physician, a time is scheduled for a member of the LifeCare Palliative Medicine team to see the patient. A physical examination is completed and an extensive past and current medical history is taken, along with a review of the patient’s medical records. The Palliative Care team communicates their findings and recommendations to the primary care physician and together they decide on the most appropriate course of treatment for the patient. Follow-up appointments are scheduled at LifeCare Palliative Medicine as needed.
What type of treatment will I receive for my symptoms?
The treatment that the patient receives is dependent on the type and severity of their symptoms. The patient's primary care physician and the Palliative Care team will work together to formulate an individualized plan of care and will adjust the treatments as needed. Referrals to other health care providers may be suggested as well.
How is palliative care paid for?
Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies cover the cost of palliative care. The patient is responsible for the cost of their normal deductibles, co-pays, etc.