Approximately 90 million Americans are living with serious and life-threatening illness, and the number is expected to more than double over the next 25 years with the aging of the baby boomers. In response, SwedishAmerican Health System has established a dedicated palliative care program, which aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for patients with serious illness.
Palliative care is provided by an interdisciplinary team that works closely with a patient’s primary care doctor. A key goal of the program is to ensure that patients do not suffer from uncontrolled physical, psychological or spiritual symptoms. SwedishAmerican’s palliative care team includes palliative care physicians, advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, social workers, chaplains and massage therapists.
Illnesses treated by palliative care include, but are not limited to, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); congestive heart failure; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Parkinson’s disease; Alzheimer’s disease; kidney failure; stroke; cancer; and HIV/AIDS. Patients benefit from SwedishAmerican’s palliative care program in a number of ways. In addition to treating pain, the program also addresses symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, depression and anxiety.
“We are committed to helping patients maintain the most comfortable, independent and active life,” said program director Dr. Juliette Kalweit, M.D. “Our program provides patients and families with answers, assistance and emotional support. In addition, we coordinate care and treatment with their physician at any stage of an illness.”
People sometimes confuse “hospice care” and “palliative care.” All hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice care. Palliative care is available to ALL patients and their families at any stage of illness. It also can be provided alongside curative treatment. Hospice care is for patients who have a limited life expectancy, usually six months or less, and is provided after all curative treatment has been attempted.
Patients interested in receiving more information, or receiving a consultation, can contact SwedishAmerican Palliative Care Services at (779) 696-4175.
From the March 6-12, 2013, issue