Palliative care is important for those with serious illness

By The Bristol Press

July 15, 2019

Battling serious illness can take a toll physically, mentally and spiritually on not only the patient, but on family members as well. The Bristol Health Palliative Care team always has the patient’s comfort in mind. The team treats the patient with kindness and compassion, listens to concerns, and involves the patient and family in the decisions when mapping out goal-directed care.

Palliative care is specialized medical treatment for patients suffering from a serious illness. This type of care is focused on relief from the symptoms and the stress of the illness. The goal of every any palliative care team is to improve the quality of life for the patient and their family.

Palliative care can help patients with numerous conditions including:

•    Chronic and/or progressive illness

•    Recurrent hospitalizations

•    Uncontrolled symptoms

•    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

•    Pulmonary fibrosis

•    Congestive heart failure

•    Chronic kidney disease

•    Dementia

•    Cancer

•    ALS

•    Alzheimer’s disease

•    Multiple sclerosis

•    Sickle cell anemia

•    Stroke

The Palliative Care team uses a team approach and includes physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, chaplains, therapists, social workers and health aides. The team treats pain, depression, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, anxiety and other symptoms that accompany and cause distress with any serious illness.

Palliative care professionals spend time talking and listening to the patient-they make sure the patient and the family understand all the treatment options and choices. The team explores all the personal goals and matches those goals to the available treatment options. The team also makes sure all the doctors and providers are coordinated and understand the goals that the patient wants to reach. The benefit of this approach gives the patient more control over their care and will improve their quality of life.

The Palliative Care team work together with the patient and their family, and the other doctors. They also provide an extra layer of support when the patient needs it the most. In addition to treating symptoms and stress, the team coordinates and communicates with all the patient’s doctors so that everyone is on the same page. It is a true partnership and they provide support every step of the way.

Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage of illness. Speak with your physician if you or a loved one would benefit from this option.

Margarita Reyes, MD, is a member of the Bristol Health Medical Group and she is medical director of the Center for Geriatric and Palliative Care, which is located at 85 Beleden Gardens Drive, Bristol. Dr. Reyes also is medical director of the Bristol Health hospice program. For more information on the Palliative Care team, please call 860-845-5901.