What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a type of specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing symptom management and relief of pain 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.
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 illnesses such as cancer, stroke, HIV/AIDS, cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) to name a few.
Palliative care focuses on physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, pain, inability to move about freely, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression. This improves a patient’s ability to tolerate medical treatments and have the strength to carry on with daily life.
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
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.
The Palliative Care Team
- Laura Archuleta, MD serves as medical director for St. Alexius’ 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.
- Colette Rudolph, RN, BSN, CHPN acts as palliative care coordinator. She is a certified hospice and palliative care nurse.
- 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 St. Alexius’ Palliative Care team. For more information, please call St. Alexius Home Care and Hospice at (701) 530-4500 or (800) 223-1977.