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News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

 

An area of care that Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital excels in is palliative care. Palliative care, or comfort care as it is also known, is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. Simply put, it is symptom management. Palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life by reducing pain, managing symptoms, and addressing medical concerns.

Palliative care comes from the term palliate defined as making a disease and its symptoms less severe or unpleasant. The goal is to reduce suffering and help patients feel more comfortable. Palliative care is not a cure for the disease. Your physician may suggest palliative care if you have a serious or life-threatening illness. This may include cancer, blood or bone marrow disorders, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, dementia, liver cancer, kidney failure, lung disease, strokes and more.

Many people confuse palliative care with hospice care, but they are different. Hospice care centers on the quality of life for people who are experiencing an advanced, life-threatening, life-limiting illness. Hospice provides compassionate care for people in their final phase of an incurable disease, illness, or injury. Hospice is generally delivered at home. While there are several options, Hospice of the Foothills, a local nonprofit, has provided exceptional care to our community for decades.



A palliative care team includes professionals that coordinate with the patient and family. This may include RNs, physicians, social workers, nutritionists, spiritual care, and more. A patient’s team may vary based on their needs and level of care. Palliative care can help manage symptoms such as pain, nausea or vomiting, difficulty breathing, constipation, and more. When initially meeting with a palliative care team, it is suggested you bring a list of your symptoms, as well as medications and supplements you are taking. You might also consider bringing a family member or friend to your appointment so you have another set of ears hearing what is being said.

Palliative care can be offered in a hospital setting, as well as in nursing homes, outpatient settings, and at home. Palliative care is often provided alongside curative treatment. If the time comes where the patient’s physician and palliative care team believe ongoing treatment is no longer effective, there are options. Sometimes palliative care transitions into hospice if the long-term prognosis is not good. Some people will choose to stop palliative care while others may continue with an increased emphasis on comfort care.




Your palliative care plan is likely to include symptom management, support and advice, care techniques to help you improve your comfort and sense of well-being, referrals, and advanced care planning options. The goal of palliative care is to help people with serious illnesses feel better. In addition to addressing disease symptoms, palliative care also treats the emotional, social, practical and spiritual concerns brought upon by illness. And, while it helps the patient, it can also bring tremendous relief and comfort to loved ones and family members.


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