November marks the beginning of the holiday season, a time for family gatherings, holiday parties and making memories with loved ones.
This month is also recognized as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to recognize the healthcare providers that take care of patients around the clock, even on weekends and holidays.
Hospice and palliative care are similar in some ways—both offer compassionate care to patients facing life-limiting illness and provide essential support services for family members and caregivers. And though a common misconception is that the hospice and palliative care are the same, each actually offers unique services that can help patients and their families learn to navigate each stage of a life-limiting or end-of-life diagnosis.
Patients diagnosed with a life-limiting, terminal illness are most appropriate for hospice care through Archbold’s hospice agency Hospice of Southwest Georgia. While patients coping with a chronic illness, one that is not necessarily terminal, are more appropriate for Archbold’s Palliative Care Program.
“Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness,” said Jessica Burns, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner at Archbold. “This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.”
Archbold’s palliative care program is comprised of a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. They develop unique and specialized treatment plans for each patient.
“Palliative care is appropriate for patients of any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided alongside curative treatment,” said Burns. “Unlike hospice care, the patient does not have to be terminal or at the end of their life to be appropriate for palliative care.”
The types of patients who have palliative care needs are patients who require chronic illness symptom management. This includes patients who have metastatic or recurrent cancer, advanced stage COPD, ESRD or CHF, end stage dementia, stoke with decreased function, neuromuscular disease and any moderate to advanced concomitant disease or other condition complicating cure.
Archbold’s Palliative Care Program benefits patients in many ways.
“Palliative care places an emphasis on communication between providers and patients, and helps decrease patient suffering through symptom management,” said Burns. “We help patients identify and meet their goals of care, and we connect patients with outside resources to help reduce the chance for hospital readmission.”
The services offered through the palliative care program include symptom management, Goals of Care conversations, Code Status discussion, patient and family support and hospice introduction and transition. Hospice offers medical care to patients with terminal or chronic life-limiting illnesses, as well as emotional support services for family members learning to cope with a loved one’s illness.
For patients with an end-of-life diagnosis, Archbold’s Hospice of Southwest Georgia provides expert medical care, pain management and emotional support tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. They also offer a support system that helps families learn to cope with terminal illness and in many cases, the loss of a loved one.
“What sets Hospice of Southwest Georgia apart is our people,” said Sheri Walters, Administrator at Hospice of Southwest Georgia. “Our top priority is to provide a supportive and compassionate setting for patients and their families.”
Hospice of Southwest Georgia treats patients in their homes, assisting living facilities and nursing homes. Archbold offers palliative care services to patients admitted to the hospital, as well as on an outpatient basis.
“We want families in the area to know that there are local services available to help them care for a loved one,” said Ken Brooker, Vice President of Clinical Services. “If a person has a chronic or terminal illness, resources are available through Archbold that can provide the help you need.”
Construction of the new John B. and Elizabeth V. Wight Inpatient Hospice Center at Archbold Memorial Hospital is scheduled to begin in 2019, with a goal of completion set for 2019-2020.
Jessica Burns, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner at Archbold.
Sheri Walters, Administrator at Hospice of Southwest Georgia