Palliative Care

Palliative care is a type of specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing symptom management, relief of pain and the stress of a serious illness no matter what the diagnosis. It is appropriate for patients of all ages and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided alongside all other appropriate curative treatments.

Palliative care is provided by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains who work with a patient’s other physicians to provide an extra layer of support. Other team members may include pharmacists and other complementary care professionals.

CHI St. Alexius Health offers inpatient palliative care and also outpatient palliative care through the Supportive Care Clinic.

Palliative Care
Palliative Care Working Together
Together with the patient, family and primary physician, the palliative care team:
  • Manages complex pain and other debilitating symptoms
  • Takes time to talk with patients regarding their wishes and goals
  • Coordinates care with the patient’s physician and other specialists involved in the patient’s care and treatment
  • Treats the whole person by meeting medical, emotional, spiritual and social needs
  • Provides support to family members who are coping with changes in their loved one’s health status and easing stress caused by the patient’s serious condition
  • Helps patients and families understand the choices they may face and anticipate their future needs
  • Provides patients more control over their care
Quality of Life
The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care treats people suffering from serious and chronic illness, including, but not limited to:
  • Cancer
  • Neurological conditions (ALS, MS, dementia, Parkinson’s)
  • Advanced heart disease (heart failure)
  • Advanced lung disease (emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis)
  • Kidney failure

Palliative care focuses on physical symptoms, improving a patient’s ability to tolerate medical treatments and have the strength to carry on with daily life. Those symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Inability to move about freely
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression

When is the Right Time?
Palliative care enhances comfort and improves quality of life. Its main goal is to provide extra support for patients dealing with chronic, severe illnesses. Palliative care patients continue to work with their other doctors and can continue curative treatments like chemotherapy or dialysis. Patients do not have to be in hospice or at the end of life to receive palliative care.

Difference between Palliative Care and Hospice
Although the goals of palliative care and hospice are similar, hospice is defined as care intended for patients with a six months or less prognosis. Patients that pursue hospice are no longer pursuing aggressive treatment options such as chemotherapy or radiation as is the case for cancer patients. Typically patients who elect hospice decide they no longer wish to have invasive tests or procedures, lab draws or become hospitalized for their needs. Palliative care, on the other hand, is not limited by a defined period of time or qualifications. Patients can continue their treatment while still getting pain and symptom management as well as support.

What if I have more questions about Hospice?
The palliative care team would be happy to talk to you about a wide variety of options for your care including hospice. We also suggest a hospice referral to discuss this option, even if it is for future use.

How will my primary care provider or specialist know about what we discuss at this clinic?
The palliative care team will be communicating with your primary care provider and your specialist about the care you receive. If you have any concerns we will be happy to keep it confidential.

The Palliative Care Team

  • Laura Archuleta, MD serves as medical director for CHI St. Alexius Health's Palliative Care Program. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and holds a Certificate of Added Qualification in Hospice and Palliative Care.
  • Kristin Braun, FNP serves as the team's family nurse practitioner.
  • Martha Reichert, LICSW serves as the team’s clinical social worker.
  • Rev. Lori Lundblad is the palliative care chaplain.

Don’t wait too long to see if you or someone you love could benefit from the services provided by CHI St. Alexius Health’s Palliative Care team. For more information, please call CHI St. Alexius Health Home Health and Hospice at (701) 530-4500 or (800) 223-1977.